Monday, September 22, 2008

7 Tips To Reading Childrens’ Books Out Loud

There is nothing more satisfying than reading to your child out loud and transforming the text in the book into something that feels like a living experience to your kids. How do you do that? Sounds like it’s simple, but it’s not! My first experience with stories was with my own Dad. A larger than life personality, he would not simply read me stories, he would add me to them as well! He had a tremendous talent for improvisation and was capable of making the story soar way above any writer’s dreams for their books.
Me? Not quite as talented! But I’ve read to my two boys for a total of 14 years, and one of them was based back in England. That one provided quite a challenge! Phone calls were a dollar a minute back then. I bought a cheap microphone and plugged it into my old cassette recorder and literally read the picture book from start to finish. I then sent him the finished cassette along with the paper book and waited to hear the screams of dismay from my ex-wife as she was tormented nightly by my voice!
Now, I am the Operations Director for a company producing digital picture books for kids, and as such, I have supervised and engineered the recording of more than 30 online picture books and have even narrated some as well. On top of that, I have guided many adults and children through the recording process. My job is to get the perfect performance out of everyone. So if you’ve ever wondered why your kids don’t pay quite as much attention to you reading a story as they do to Uncle Jim, listen up! I’m here to help. Here are a few easy to follow tips that will change everything!
7. Reading out loud is not the same as reading to yourself. That is probably the biggest mistake people make. You are now the court jester! You have to pack as much energy into the story as possible. Make it live!
6. Practice a few books without the kids present. Yes, you heard me, PRACTICE! Take a book into the ‘loo’ (rest room) and act it out. Sounds great because it echos! Pretend you’re on stage. Let it go!
5. Enunciate your words clearly. Don’t slur or mumble. Every word must be understood.
4. No monotony! Be animated. Go beyond your normal boundaries. Read with verve and excitement. Ad lib a little -- you can even change one of the character’s names to be that of the child you’re reading to!
3. Get into the characters. When you’re reading dialog, imagine you’re that person speaking. Try to make each character different in some simple way.
2. Don’t rush. Making mistakes will pull the kids out of the imaginary world you’re putting them in. Take your time, but allow your eyes to run a little ahead of your lips, that way you’ll know what’s coming and can put the right emphasis on it.
1. Imagine you’re the kid you’re reading to. Imagine the eager look of excitement on that kid’s face as the plot unfolds. You are creating a movie in the kid’s head! Have fun with it. Be it. They will always remember storytime with Mom and Dad.
So to wrap it up, let your hair down, allow your inner kid to emerge, be a little looney, make some silly faces and noises, ad lib a little and just watch the reactions as the kids become totally involved and clamor for more when you’re done.
Good luck and happy reading!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should check out Bayard and their series of StoryBoxBooks, AdventureBoxBooks and DiscoveryBoxBooks.
There's lots going on too:

This Month Storybox has guest illustrator Helen Oxenbury


There's a Readathon happening in UK and Ireland -

There's a Ghost Drawing competition in AdventureBoxBooks assiciated with the Polka Theatre ( )