Sunflower Summer Reading: Long summer days are the perfect time to get lost inside a book! Join Sunflower throughout the summer, as we explore reading aloud in all its forms and benefits.

This post is Part 3 in the series. Read Part 1 here: Read me a story? As you wish. Read Part 2 here: Audiobooks: Learning to listen


The books you read aloud and the time you spending exploring books will most likely be your child’s favorite experience with reading. I teach reading education classes to beginning teachers and as an introduction I always have them share their favorite children’s book and how they remember learning to read. The most common responses I get are of course, the classics, anything from Eric Carle, Dr. Seuss, or the Angelina Ballerina series to name a few. Hands down, the most common response to how they learned to read is that their parents read to them every night. The lesson here is to not underestimate the few minutes each night you spend reading with your child.

With that being said, it can sometimes be a bit intimidating when you first dive into a new book. Here you will find a few tips to help make your reading time enjoyable, engaging, and interactive.


teacher reading a book to children

Reading some old favorites at Seedlings.

Before Reading

The first step in the ritual of reading aloud is the act of choosing the book. You may be reading a book fresh from the library or book store that you have never explored before or reading that same book you have read for the ten thousandth time. In either situation, the interaction begins before you have even opened the book.

  • Examining the front cover and guessing what the book will be about or talking about some of your child’s favorite parts is an easy way to start.
  • It is important that you give your child choice in what they want to read. You can simply set out a selection of books to choose from or let them go straight  to the bookshelf and choose it themselves. I personally like the second option because you never know what your going to get, and children begin to acquire an appreciation for how to respect books by taking them off the shelf and putting them back when they are done.
  • I want to remind you here, it is perfectly fine if your child decides to choose that worn out book you have read so many times. There is something there that is drawing them to it. When one of my daughters gets “hooked” on a book, I add in a “mommy or daddy choice” book at the end.

During Reading

Okay, this is the big one. Here is where you will spend most of the time with your child reading.  Truly I don’t think you can mess this part up. As long as you are present with your child and enjoying a good book, that’s really what counts. However, if you want to spice it up a bit, here are a few suggestions you can add to your reading ritual. Please note, that you do not have to do all of these suggestions in one sitting or each reading, maybe focus on one or two and then add in more until you become comfortable.

  • Children love voices! Reading is not a time to be shy around your child; they are not judging you. Be a pirate “argh matey” or maybe a silly little princess.
  • Pictures can say a thousand words. Reading isn’t always about reading the words. Make sure to spend time looking at and talking about the pictures. I find that with each new reading of the same book I seem to always find new connections between the pictures and the words that I missed the first time.
  • Make sure to answer and ask questions throughout. There are no right or wrong questions or answers, just those that come to you. It can be hard sometimes to patiently answer all the questions, especially during some of those peak developmental ages where questions just seem to flow out. Try to keep the discussion in the realm of the text and connections to your daily life and experiences.
  • Depending on the age and developmental level of your child, you can introduce letters and words within books by pointing out new ones or engaging in a scavenger hunt while reading.

After Reading

A book doesn’t have to be over once you read “The End.” Here are a few things to talk about at the end of a book reading.

  • Talk about their favorite parts and characters. Often times, characters in books match characteristics of people in their real life.
  • Discuss new knowledge that was learned.  When reading a new nonfiction book this is especially important too.
  • Of course, you can always read the book again tomorrow.

Two great websites for additional read-aloud tips:

A list of good read-alouds based on the age of your child:

Suggestions for making your reading time more engaging:

Happy Reading!

Post by Gail Sigelakis
Photos by Haidor Truu
Sunflower Summer Reading Graphic design by Meade Peers McCoy

Gail is a proud Sunflower alum and mom to two young girls. She has her Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction in literacy and teaches reading courses at Florida Atlantic University. She will be joining A.D Henderson University School as a middle school reading teacher after spending the last 10 years in the elementary classroom.