After more than a decade of homeschooling I must say that one of the happiest achievements that I have is all the books that my children and I have been able to read together.
When my first child was still in the womb I read Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life. That book showed me how important it was to read books to your children. It also gave me some worthwhile book lists.
Over the years I have learnt how to incorporate books more and here are a few reading aloud tips that have helped me.
Where do we read aloud?
Anywhere that is comfortable. Mostly our lounge room is where books are read but also on the bed, in the car (via an audio book) or on holidays.
What do we read aloud?
On homeschool days we usually read for around an hour and a half.
I usually read three to four books per sitting. One from each of the following categories:
1. The Bible
Our first book is the Bible. We started at Genesis and have worked our way through all the historical books. A great resource I love is Greenleaf Press’s Old Testament History Guide. It has a guide and lists of thoughtful questions to ask at the end of each Scripture reading. I was told about it for years and regret putting it off. I highly recommend it.
When my kids were very young we did read Bible stories rather than the Bible. From about five years old I have found that my kids are able to understand the Scriptures if you stick to narrative stories. Read more about teaching kids the Bible here.
2. Spiritual Story
Our next book has spiritual content. It may be a biography, missionary stories, contemporary or historical fiction. Here is a list of some of great Christian books we have read.
3. Classic Fiction or Good Non Fiction
4. Curriculum Book
Here I read something that is often relevant to what we are studying at the time. One day it may be a nature or science reader, another time it might be a history book. It varies depending on what we are learning about.
How Do You Get Them To Sit Still?
This is a question I am often asked.
In our home we gather everyone together for reading. The kids usually bring something to do while reading. My stipulation is that it must be a quiet activity. The kids might draw, drink tea, paint their nails (the girls), brush my hair (I love that one), tickle each other’s backs BUT the most successful activity has definitely been Lego™. They seem to never tire of this.
I have worked up to this amount of time over the years. The children have become accustomed to it and they don’t complain. In fact this is probably the most enjoyable part of their homeschool day.
If you don’t read aloud try starting with one book and gradually increase your reading time. It may take a few months or even a year but I’m sure you will find it beneficial.
Since I have chosen to read to all my children at once I have tried to select books that we can all enjoy. I must admit though that sometimes the youngest has lost the plot. With a little explanation this is usually rectified.
Most of the books we read are successful. Occasionally we get a dud. We have been known to stop halfway through books that are still boring us.
A Confession – I Choose Books I Want To Read!
Yes, I do pick books that suit what we are studying but I also need to be reading it and it’s hard to read aloud when your slurring and nearly asleep.
When choosing books I have relied heavily on recommendations from reliable sources. Here is a list of my favourite booklist resources:
- My homeschooling friends – It is rare to dislike the recommendations I have had from friends.
- Booklist books – Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life was my first Christian booklist book. I like the fact that they give short summaries of recommended book.
- Catalogues – Mary Collis’s Homeschool Favourites Catalogue -which you can now find online here has been used many times in my search of a good book. She has allowed me to put it online now that Homeschool Favourites has closed. The Sonlight Catalogue is another good resource.
Getting Holds of Books
Many of the books we want are not available from our library. I sometimes search Trove to search for books in Australian libraries that are hard to get or too expensive to buy. I then contact my local library and ask for an interlibrary loan.
Online booksellers are so easy. I choose Fishpond (because they stock Australian books and are based in Australia), and Bookdepository.com for most other books. Both these sellers give free postage. For books not available there I find Christianbook.com has all the others that I want. Unfortunately the postage can be quite high.
Second hand books are also great if you can find them. I can’t resist a second hand book shop and I have found many great bargains. Today I picked up a GA Henty book for twenty five cents. I also find Books and Collectibles and Booko to be a great online resource for second hand books. Aussiehomeschool has a classified section for buying and selling homeschool resources. They also feature a Want To Buy section for those of you looking for something particular.
Plan to Read
Using this method we usually get through about twelve to sixteen books a year. We also cover large amounts of Scripture; educate ourselves on church history, doctrine and general history.
If you haven’t started reading aloud in your homeschool I implore you to give it a go!