If possible, let them pick out the book, otherwise pick a book that you loved as a child. This is important, kids will know if you are pretending to like it. Turn off the TV, stereo, etc.

Find a chair, sofa, bed, etc. that will fit both of you (barely)-let them sit where they want to sit- trust me, they will pick an angle.

Read in a normal voice unless a change of inflection is necessary because of characters or plot device- too much changing is confusing- (Use a real voice! )

Read slowly, let them look at all the pictures and remember they will probably have questions about small things that are not related to the story. It matters to them. Listen. Let them decide when it's time to go to the next page.

After four or five pages try leaving out the end of some sentences-most kids love this- "So the lion decided to go back.......... HOME they will shout- proudly. (How great is that!)

When the story is over, always say The End, even if the book doesn't.

Read it again, at least once. Otherwise it doesn't count.


As mentioned, don't fake it. If you're not digging it, pick another book or another time - it SUCKS when an adult reads in a sulky I'd-rather-be-doing-anything-other-than-reading-to-you voice. Kids know precisely what that tone means, and it breaks them.

Don't rush. Why would you want it to be over soon? You're pouring words into a kid's open greedy brain. Make it last. Five minutes more equals hundreds more words for building dreams and castles.

If it's funny, laugh! When Shel Silverstein is being a silly old bastard or Louis Sachar has gotten too ridiculous to stand, don't press on through the text - drop the book on the floor and roll around on the couch laughing. Don't you want to have that memory from your own childhood? Do me a favor and give that to a kid you know.

How to read to a child?

A lot, and often, even when they can read for themselves. Especially when they can read for themselves.

Apart from that, I am going to disagree (mildly) with deep thought's idea. With many books, it does help to use different voices for each character. it sometimes helps even more if you read in character and miss out the attributions, said Little Bear or Big Bear replied. Point to the relevant character as you say the words, if it helps. You can then read the story in the two, or three or more different voices, almost like a play. I have convinced myself that it helps understanding (or perhaps I'm just a frustrated thesp).

Second, as a variation on deep thought's let them finish the sentence game, try innocently changing one of the words. If the printed words say, the cat sat on the mat, read it out loud as the dog sat on the mat or, perhaps better, the cat sat on the bat, and see how they react. It's wonderful, and it helps the child to keep concentrating on what you are saying. If the child failed to notice first time around (unlikely) then emphasise it a bit more second time. It's a guaranteed crowd-pleaser for any child from just-talking up to about 6 or 7, and some older children.

Shhh! If, instead of mat, or bat, you choose Splat!, the reactions get even better. And if you use Toilet, then prepare for hysteria

Third, definitely let the child choose the book and/or story. If you are reading every night at bedtime, and they select the same one every night. turn it into a ritual. But to add variety, add in one more, which you choose. If they then start wanting to choose a different story, just go with the flow. Why not read two instead of one?

For older children, serialise the books, reading one chapter (or half a chapter) per session. The Hobbit, Harry Potter, C.S. Lewis' Narnia books and many others are good for this. Apart from the fact that these are great stories, it is a good way of testing the child's reaction, to see if they are ready to read these books on their own. Furthermore, reading out loud to good readers helps them learn how to pronounce some of those tricky words, which if they read by themselves, they'd rarely learn, or hear spoken.

I would suggest that you start early - 2-3 months. Short excerpts. Babies are comforted by listening to your voice and very rapidly grasp the connection between the position on your lap, books, visual cues, vocal cues, etc. Continue reading to your child as long as she/he will let you do so. My son and I had bedtime reading until he was 9 yrs. old or so when he wanted to continue his bedtime reading on his own.

Once my son had a fair handle on reading around age 5,(he was an early reader at 4) when he wanted to see a movie, whether on the big or small screen, I would ask that he read the book first if it existed. Then we would see the movie and then we would discuss both after the movie viewing. Because we never had cable tv, movie viewing was special in our family, but reading was a daily event and still is (my son is now 19).

Above all, do the voices. This is very important. You must do the voices. Nothing says I get paid seven dollars an hour to babysit you and it is not enough to pay for my XBox Live subscription like a monotonous, droning voice doing Hagrid in the same tone as Hermione Granger. But what if they don't like my voices? Make up new ones. Take your voice box to places it has never gone before. But what if, you know, they've read the book on their own and they've developed an idea of what the characters sound like, or maybe their mom reads it to them--well, experiment. Do Hagrid in a nice, booming Cockney and if they don't like it then do Welsh or Scottish. But I'll sound silly. Nothing is sillier than being worried about what a seven-year-old thinks of you. Well then what if I get embarrassed and start laughing during one of the extremely important death scenes? Then you're in a right bind, aren't you, now? Try doing a Welsh accent. The sheer effort will suck the fun out of anything.

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