How to Make Read Aloud Time Work

Are you too tired, too busy, or too distracted to make time to read aloud? 

You’ve spent all day as teacher, chef, housekeeper, peacemaker, chauffeur, you name it—

There are countless benefits to family read aloud sessions that go well beyond the educational, and these benefits outweigh all your reasons for skipping it! 

Infographic on benefits to reading aloud
Image Source:Read Aloud 15 MINUTES

In addition to creating priceless family memories, these read aloud moments also give mom the chance to revisit her favorite childhood books or read the ones you missed the first time around.  It is also a fantastic way to wind down your household after a hectic day.

Even once your children begin reading proficiently on their own, family read aloud time still offers wonderful opportunities for the whole family to gather together and simply enjoy each other with great literature.

Need help to begin or keep it up?

If you find that the time you designate for family reading aloud always slips by, here is a helpful hint:

Set a timer for your desired reading time. 

I found that 15- 20 minutes before “lights out” is ample time to read a chapter or two.  It wasn’t until I placed this desire in my heart that this time became a reality. Once I did, I was amazed how quickly read aloud time became our regular nightly routine.  In fact, it was considered a harsh punishment by my kids to skip bedtime read aloud time! They grew to LOVE this special time each and every year, even through the teen years!

Don’t know what books to read, for each age?

Here are my all time favorite booklists! I kept a copy of each ready in hand when I went to the library or requested books on-line. Once you get familiar with favorite authors you can pick up great book bargains at the local thrift store or library book sale. My library keeps a section of used books for sale and I often find great hardcover copies of treasured family favorites.

Catholic booklists
  • A Mother’s List of Books by Theresa Fagan – My all time FAVORITE, listed by age with annotations too!
  • For the Love of Literature by Maureen Wittmann – great chapter on reading aloud with tons of book recommendations.
  • The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease – great tips and great list especially for reading aloud to children!
  • Program for Achieving Character Education by Monica Speach – Wonderful literature suggestions listed by age and coordinated to the virtues and much more!
  • A Landscape with Dragons by Michael O’Brien- back of book has a great list.
  • Let the Authors Speak by Carolyn Hatcher (plenty of used copies- worth finding if you love history).
  • Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories by William Kilpatrick – virtue based categories and also by age.
  • Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt – classic with beloved books especially for the younger crowd.
  • Books Children Love by Elizabeth Wilson – her lists contains books by topic, great to coordinate with your children’s interests, all by age!

Get everyone involved!

A wonderful tip to get every member of the family interested and involved in read aloud time is to let each person take turns choosing the books. 

Additionally, designate specific nights so each child may take his/her turn in reading aloud.  This gives your children an opportunity to practice reading plus it helps them to become effective public speakers. 

Hearing books read aloud also fosters better writing skills.  According to Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, to become a better writer, you need to draw upon the foundations of the patterns within language. 

What better way to strengthen that foundation than by reading aloud, where the nuances and characteristics of language come alive. Reading aloud forces the reader to slow the pace and really process the information, processing the whole picture. 

Once children become accomplished readers, many tend to skim or scan through pages of a book as they read silently.  They miss so much, but if they read aloud, the content is displayed as complete rather than choppy fragments.  Our older boys were really struggling with reading Shakespeare’s plays. This is until they decided to read it aloud to one another.  They were astonished at how quickly and clearly they could grasp the concepts and summarize the content simply by hearing it out loud!

And that goes for just about any really good story! Language patterns, dialogue, plot points and characterizations are best understood when you read aloud as you are forced to speak every single word the author wrote in the sequence they wrote it! You will be teaching your kids the beginnings of reading for a deeper understanding!

What are your favorite read aloud time books? Share them in the comments below!

Paola’s Book Bites: Heroes and Saints

Book of Heroes
By Amy Welborn
Publisher: Loyola University Press

What a breath of fresh air to read a book written for children about real HEROES.

Amy Welborn has an incredible gift of relating deep truths to children in an easy manner. Her description of “What a hero is” alone is worth getting this treasure of a book. By using the spiritual and moral virtues as a guide towards introducing REAL Heroes (Saints and Blesseds) she incorporates opportunities for the child to really think about their own relationship with God.

Meet well known, lesser known, modern, and ancient saints in stories that describe the saints lives and how they loved God above all, how God was the center of their lives and in ways that our children can find true heroes to imitate!!! This is a real find and one you will go to over and over again. This book would also work well with the PACE program in bringing home virtue to a child’s life. Great to read aloud. (Ages 8+, 175 pages, HC, $$)

Book of Saints
By Amy Welborn
Publisher: Loyola University Press

Perhaps you have read her Prove-it series, which is amazing see my review here! Well, she has done it again—this time for a younger set.

This gifted author has written a great compilation of the saints accessible for our children and it is truly inspiring. Who are the saints, why are they important, and what can today’s children learn from them? In Book of Saints, author Amy Welborn answers these questions with exciting and inspiring stories, real-life applications, and important information about these heroes of the Church.

This delightful collection of saints’ lives, written in a storybook style for children eight to twelve, explains how saints become saints, why we honor them, and how they help us even today. Divided thematically, the book features more than sixty saints from all over the world and from all across time, including our newest saints, such as Katharine Drexel; popular saints, such as St. Anthony of Padua; and Blesseds, such as Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Each story tells about a saint and encourages readers to consider how they might apply what they learn from the story to their everyday lives. (Ages 8+, 304 pages, HC, $$)

Featured Author: Hilda Van Stockum

Want the perfect read aloud books for the family?  One that will be enjoyable to a range of ages?

Our family has fallen in love with all of Hilda van Stockum’s stories!

Every time we finish reading aloud one of her books, we feel as if the characters have become old friends and a part of our family. They have so much charm and warmth that they seem to literally spring Hilda_van_Stockum_(circa_1957)to life!  Mrs. van Stockum’s books  seem to invite themselves into our home and our hearts. In fact, the author frequently used her six children as models for the characters in her stories, she even put direct quotes from her family into her stories! Her vivid imagery and flair for dialect encourage the reader to become an active participant in the stories where they will travel to rural Ireland, post World War II Canada and Holland to name a few.

Drawing on her extensive travel experiences as a child (her father was in the Dutch Navy), Hilda van Stockum introduces us to some amazing characters including the Mitchell family, living in Washington, D.C. during World War II and the O’Sullivan family from County Cork, Ireland. These families are just like yours! They are very close-knit, deeply rooted in their faith and at times, more than a little mischievous! You are bound to recognize your children and some of their escapades in these delightful stories. Sadly, a few of these treasures are no longer in print but we are happy to carry The Mitchell Series, The Bantry Bay Series, The Borrowed House and The Winged Watchman. These are all excellent read-aloud stories.

The Mitchell ’s Series

The Mitchells: Five for Victory
By Hilda van Stockum

The Mitchells: Five for Victory eVersionThis first volume introduces us to the Mitchell family, whom you will immediately love. With Daddy off to war and summer vacation looming before them, the five Mitchell children form a victory club to occupy their time. The club finds many adventures, including the discovery of a war refugee orphan. Your little ones are bound to see themselves reflected in faithful Joan, gentle Patsy, steadfast Peter, impish Angela, or brazen baby Timmy. This tale is absolutely delightful. Adults and children alike will enjoy reading all about the Mitchell family in Five for Victory. Excellent for read-alouds too! (Ages 10+, 236 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Canadian Summer
By Hilda van Stockum

Canadian Summer eBookThe Mitchell family is back again and this time they have taken their adventures to a whole new country! Daddy’s new job has brought them to Montreal and the only house they can find is miles from the nearest town with no running water nor electricity. Will they ever survive the summer? Follow the Mitchells through the beautiful Canadian countryside as they encounter new friends and new escapades. (Ages 10+, 180 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Friendly Gables
By Hilda van Stockum

Friendly Gables eBookHere come the lively Mitchells again and this time with new additions to the family. This beloved family is now two years older and living at Friendly Gables in Lachine, Quebec. There is never a dull moment in the Mitchell house! Discover how the children cleverly escape the clutches of Miss Thorpe, the nurse who has
come to help Mother. You will be delighted as the Mitchells make new acquaintances and when old friends, the Jolicoeurs,
resurface. (Ages 10+, 165 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

The Bantry Bay Series

Having lived and studied in Ireland herself, Hilda van Stockum brilliantly captures the lilt and melody of the Irish language. You will be amazed at how quickly you’ll master an Irish brogue! Your family will be instantly enchanted with both the O’Sullivan family and the rich Irish history woven throughout these stories. So, gather the whole family together and take a trip across the pond to the Emerald Isle.

The Cottage at Bantry Bay
By Hilda van Stockum

The Cottage at Bantry Bay eBook - 65% OFFFrom the thatch-roofed cottages to Paddy, the traveling piper to the generous hospitality of neighbors, The Cottage at Bantry Bay paints a stunning portrait of the Ireland of yesteryear. It is here that we are introduced to the remarkable O’Sullivan family of County Cork, Ireland. Though they lack monetary wealth, they are rich in faith and love. Like all of Hilda van Stockum’s books, your whole family will enjoy this story. Everyone is bound to relate to one of the four O’Sullivan children. There is sweet, quiet Brigid who is always willing to help Mother, steadfast and studious Michael and the twins, Francie and Liam, both with hearts of gold that are all too often overshadowed by their many “adventures.” Mother O’Sullivan certainly has her hands full with the lot of them! Go along with Brigid and Michael as they travel the weary roads through the Kerry mountains or with Francie and Liam as they bravely face Clementine, Mrs. Flaherty’s mean-spirited cow or with Bran, the dog, to find hidden treasure! (Ages 10+, 239 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Francie on the Run
By Hilda van Stockum

Francie on the Run eBook -65% OffFrancie is sent to the Orthopedic Hospital in Dublin far away from his family and friends, but in typical Francie style, the young boy quickly meets new friends everywhere he goes. Sick of being in the hospital and being treated like a “babby” by the nurses, the young adventurer sets out for home all on his own. Along the way, Francie meets some extraordinary characters including Mrs. McDermot in the castle, Ireland’s famed little people (fairies), kind Father Kelly and Pegeen. Francie journeys all over the country learning the different customs and legends of each region. Will Francie ever reach home or will he be taken back to the lonely hospital ward? (Ages 10+, 293 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Pegeen
By Hilda van Stockum

Pegeen eBook - 65% OffAfter her Grannie dies, Pegeen stays with Francie’s family while Father Kelly tries to locate her American uncle. With Michael away at school, Mother O’Sullivan couldn’t be happier having another child around, but she soon finds out Pegeen is not a very quiet addition. Poor Pegeen, no matter what she does, it always
comes out wrong, but it’s never her fault! The young orphan manages to upset everyone in the O’Sullivan family, each time
concocting another tale to place the blame anywhere but on her! As the weeks go by, however, Pegeen slowly becomes a part of the family when a letter arrives from New York. Will Pegeen have to leave her new family or will Uncle Dan let her stay in Ireland? (Ages 10+, 266 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

The Borrowed House
By Hilda von Stockum

The Borrowed House eBook - 62% Off!Janna Oster is a proud, young German girl living near the Black Forest during World War II. With her famous parents entertaining in Holland, Janna is all alone and turns to the Hitler Youth group where she was taught to never question the authority of Hitler, the supremacy of the Aryan race and to view the Jewish race as inferior. Janna’s life is turned upside down when her parents summon her to Holland. It is there that the young girl begins to question the validity of Hitler’s teachings and begins to realize that no one deserves the cruel treatment being shown. (221 pages, Ages 14+ File Type: EPUB)

The Winged Watchman
By Hilda von Stockum

The Winged Watchman eBookThis is a great historical fiction of WWII—rich in suspense, characterization, plot and spiritual truth. A story of courage and hope in occupied Holland: a hidden Jewish child, an “underdiver”, a downed RAF pilot, an imaginative, daring underground hero, and the small thing of family life which surprisingly carry on in the midst of oppression. An inspiring story of those who suffer, but do not lose faith! (.epub, 191 pages, Gr 5+ $)

We carry copies of these books in ebook format as they are inexpensive and easy for mom or dad to use as a read aloud but to build our family library we suggest purchasing the paperback books from Bethlehem Books, who is continually looking for these kinds of treasures and holds a high standard when choosing books that inspire and edify a child’s imagination.

Miniature Stories of the Saints

1970By Fr. Daniel Lord

This is our absolute favorite collection of saint stories for retelling at the Kindergarten to second grade level. All seven  of our children have chosen most of the stories told in these sweet little books for their own personal saint books.  I read them the story aloud and then they retell it to me as I copy down their retelling.  Then I make a copy of their retelling in a blank book and they draw their own illustration of the saint as inspired by the lovely drawing portrayed in these books.  The lives of the Saints are written in an easily understood and entertaining story form. Each story is one page in length and includes a full color illustration on the facing page. The stories are so simply written and colorfully illustrated that they are bound to make a lasting impression upon a child as their introduction to the Saints of the Church.

Book of Heroes

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By Amy Welborn

What a breath of fresh air to read a book written for children about real HEROES.  Amy Welborn has an incredible gift of relating deep truths to children in an easy to understand manner.  Her description of “What a hero is” alone is worth getting this treasure of a book. By using the spiritual and moral virtues as a guide towards introducing REAL Heroes (Saints and Blesseds) she incorporates opportunities for the child to really think about their own relationship with God. Meet well known, lesser known, modern, and ancient saints in stories that describe the saints lives and how they loved God above all, how God was the center of their lives and in ways that our children can find true heroes to imitate!!! This is a real find and one you will go to over and over again. Great to read aloud.

 

Latsch Valley Farm Series Book 4: Willow Wind Farm – Betsy’s Story

WillowWindCoverThis is the fourth book in the popular Latsch Valley Farm Series that has so far spanned 100 years and four generations of a Polish-American extended family in rural Wisconsin. The story is based on the lively experiences of Betsy Korb, 7th daughter in a family of 10 children and niece of author Anne Pellowski. Along with Linda, Kathy, Danny, Carol, Mona, Dorothy, Julie, Sara and Kristine, Betsy enjoys the fun—and disasters—that occur at “medium-sized” Willow Wind Farm, with its cows, cattle, pigs, chickens, cats and dogs. She partakes in all the pleasures of a large family as well as learning to cooperate with the necessary chores: preparing meals, washing-up and being an alert member of a busy, working farm.

Set in the year 1967, the book describes a close and flourishing community still connected to its European and Catholic roots.

Ages 8-12 (or younger as a read-aloud), 179 pages, available in paperback and .epub format

 

Latsch Valley Farm Series Book 3: Stairstep Farm – Anna Rose’s Story

StairstepFarm_cat_cover_sm_0Wisconsin farm life in the Latsch Valley of the 1930’s comes alive through the eyes of imaginative Anna Rose-a five-year-old girl who can’t wait to catch up with her four older siblings. While Anna Rose impatiently waits for the longed-for start of school, her days are filled with family work-minding geese, picking nettles, chopping thistles, helping with the haying, minding her three little sisters-and with family celebrations-good food, singing, sledding, and games of Star Light, Moonlight and Uncle Wiggily. Based on the author’s own experiences, this story is the third of five books which vividly describe memorable people and events of the Pellowski family and its Latsch Valley descendents.

Ages 8-12 (younger as a family read-aloud), 185 pages, available in Paperback and .epub format

Latsch Valley Farm Series Book 2: Winding Valley Farm – Annie’s Story

WindingValleyFarmSet in 1908 Wisconsin, life for six-year-old Annie Dorawa on Winding Valley Farm—just down the road from the Pellowskis’ “first farm in the valley”—is busy and happy. Then one day, Annie hears her father speak about not planting that year, but instead moving into town. Is it really possible that they might leave their beautiful farm? What could her father be thinking about? This new anxiety, along with that inner imp of mischief always threatening to get her into trouble, hover over Annie as she works and plays with her sister and five brothers immersed in the vigorous life of their American-Polish community. Despite the discovery that life is not always easy, Annie begins to realize what warm security is to be found in a hardworking family rooted in their Catholic faith and love.

(Ages 8-12, 204 pages, PB/.epub)

Family Read Aloud Time: First Farm in the Valley – Anna’s Story

FirstFarmInTheValley We came across this series years ago when I read Bethlehem’s monthly journal In Review, the issue Ribbons to Romance from the summer of 1995. In this issue I discovered an author profile of Anne Pellowski, immediately I had to read this master storytellers real life “Little House on the Prairie” story. It is the tale of a large Catholic Polish family told through the eyes of one of the younger daughters in the family. Pure delight, filled with endearing characters (who behave they way our children do even in this modern age) and the comfort and joy they receive from each other always centered on their faith! Now Bethlehem has brought the first book in the series back in print with the remaining four to follow! We are reading it aloud to everyone’s enjoyment! (Late 1800’s)

click the link for the instant download : First Farm in the Valley

(Ages 8-12, 194 pages, PB/.epub )

The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom TollboothThis was our daughter Anne’s all time favorite book when she was little. The hero of the story, Milo, thinks everything—especially learning—is a waste of time and there is nothing worth doing. When a mysterious tollbooth appears in his room and finding nothing better to do, Milo uses his electric car to drive past the tollbooth and finds himself in a different land. He meets strange creatures and makes friends with a watch dog named Tock and a bug named The Humbug. He goes on an expedition to rescue the two princesses, Rhyme and Reason, because everything was going wrong without them. He learns much through his adventures with the tollbooth–perseverance, appreciation for words and numbers, and wisdom! Most importantly, he learns life is far from boring—it is a gift!!!