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Why Should My Family Have "Read-Aloud" Time?

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, June 23, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 25 June 23, 2006
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2006 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- On Reading Aloud
Helpful Tips
-- Large Families
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Editor's Pick
-- String Figure Fun
-- Subscriber Information
-- Sponsorship Information

Notes from Heather

Reading Aloud & Bunny Trail Books

[This week we feature a question from a reader about how much
time to spend on reading aloud each day, especially in relation
to unit studies. The question -- and the answers received -- are
included further down in the newsletter. My "notes" today were
inspired by this question from Jennifer.]


Someday I want to visit a very special place --
Children's Preservation Library near Traverse City, Michigan.
Michelle Miller is the founder of the library... and she is also
the author of Truth Quest History, which is, in my opinion, the
#1 history curriculum available today! This isn't a commercial,
but here is her website if you want more info:

In addition to over 20,000 volumes of hand-selected literature,
Michelle has these wonderful Five-in-a-Row "totes" which are
big plastic bins with lids. In each tote you will find the FIAR book
-- like "The Story About Ping", "Wild Horses of Sweetbriar", "Pair
of Red Clogs", or any of the other wonderful selections from FIAR.
Each selection has its own bin. In addition to the original book
that you read each day, there are between 10 and 20 other books
that are "go alongs". So, for instance, if you are reading about
Ping, you would also enjoy a living book about the Yangtze River
in China. You might also read a science book about cormorants,
the birds with the rings around their necks that fish for their owners.
You might read a beautiful picture book set historically in China at
a time when families were large like Ping's duck family -- one of
my favorites is called "Mah Jiang and the Orange Ants".

Anyway, I think you get the picture. There is nothing more satis-
fying than reading a book together with your children... and then
following every bunny trail that book might lead you down. Having
all these "go along" books at your fingertips just makes the whole
journey more exciting!

Unit studies -- utilizing plenty of good books -- are an excellent
way to organize those bunny trails that make reading and
researching a particular interest so much fun. Kids who enjoy
books grow up to be adults who will always love and enjoy books.
And that makes life-long learners who LOVE to learn!

There are many things to be gained by making reading aloud a
larger percentage of your day -- even when you are including
children who can already read on their own. (When I mention
"larger percentage" I am thinking of our fondest read-aloud mem-
ories. These were days we spent over 6 hours reading aloud!)

1. Shared Experience. When you have "lived" through a story
together, it just amplifies the life experience you have shared
as a family. It adds depth to your children's otherwise simple
existence. It builds a basis for deeper discussions and there-
fore stimulates those "brain connections" that are increasing
with each new addition of information to your child's education.
Only those families who have enjoyed "Carry On, Mr. Bowditch"
together know what it means to "sail by ash breeze". ;-)

2. Expanded Vocabulary. When a child hears the cream of
the written language brought to life by GOOD literature, he
adds new words, phrases, and meanings to his whole base of

3. Increased Understanding of Grammar. Hearing and pro-
cessing excellent literature on a regular basis naturally
trains the ear and mind in complex sentence structure and
proper grammar. I never "teach" grammar to my children, but
they are continually exposed to it through reading aloud! Even
books which incorporate poor grammar, slang, and vernacular
language give us the opportunity to discuss proper grammar.

4. Cultivating Quiet Attentiveness. Reading aloud together
can be a very peaceful experience. It is a nice way to bring
together active children who need a cooling down and a winding
down from their busy day. We could be going in all kinds of
different noisy directions all day, but our morning, afternoon, or
evening read-alouds provide a calming "coming together" time,
much like a shared family meal or regular devotional times.
Children who learn how to listen WELL and comprehend at a
young age learn a very important life skill.

5. A LOVE for Books. Books are addictive. If you want
your children to be life-long readers, then get them hooked
while they are young. The best way is by reading TO them,
even beyond the point where they know how to read on their
own. If they see you love books, they will love books too!


Do you have comments and ideas to add... or real-life stories
about reading books with children? I'd LOVE to hear from you!

Please send to: Heather@FamilyClassroom.net



Helpful Tips

"A good organizational site is:


It is similar to FlyLady, but geared more toward homeschooling
families; large families in particular, but it would be helpful to
small families, as well." -- Laurie


Do you have an idea or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Last Issue's Question

"I am fairly new to the unit study method. My kids and I love it!
My questions is how much time do you spend on your reading
aloud? Do you read from several living books? My children aren't
quite ready to read on their own. Any other helpful tips would be
greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for all of the wonderful
replies." -- Jennifer in California

Our Readers' Responses

"I recommend -- ideally -- reading aloud for at least an hour and
a half each day.

When we were doing a study on ancient history....I read from
The Mystery of History (which my current 10 year old considers
her favorite read aloud of all time!)

We also read Mathematicians are People Too... and Archimedes
and the Door to Science -- along with some fun books -- Just
David, Sir Gibbie, and Pilgrim's Progress.

Normally I try to keep most of our reading to the subject we're
studying. But it is nice to have a "just for fun" book occasionally.

Also, if you don't have time to read to them, remember books on
tape are great ways to get the literature deep into your children's
hearts. One of my children has listened to The Chronicles of
Narnia on CD at least 15 times!"

-- Contributed by Terri Camp, homeschool mom and author of
Ignite the Fire -- http://www.IgniteTheFire.com


"For those moms who may not have the stamina to read a lot of
books outloud, audio books are wonderful. You can find many of
them at your local library." -- Elizabeth


"I would gauge the time you read by your child's interest. It's
certainly okay to be reading from several books at one time.
Kids have a great ability to keep up with several plots or themes
at once. I would caution against setting a "time limit" to read
each day, because some days you may get going and they'll
want you to go for hours. Other days, they may be fidgety and
unable to focus. Gauge it according to their ability to sit still
and concentrate! Charlotte Mason would have said no more
than 15-20 minutes and expect their undivided attention. How-
ever, there are days when my daughter wants me to read for
30 - 60 minutes from one thing (she's 9). Other days she can't
concentrate as long." -- Lori in Alabama


"I pick one chapter book at a time; I try for a picture book a day
and several nonfiction books over the week. We usually study
one *segment* of a unit a week. And so this way works best for
me. Sometimes the chapter book is read during the day and
sometimes that may be part of the bedtime reading. I also let
children draw (it needs to pertain to the unit) while I'm reading.
A couple of my children really need something to *do* and
others need to listen intently to understand." -- Stephanie in TX


"For background my children are 6 and 1. My 6 year old is on the
verge of reading but not quite there yet. To answer your questions
directly: we (an adult) read for almost an hour at bedtime as well
as 20 minutes during "school time" and as often as we can during
the rest of the day. Yes we read from several living books. We are
currently making our way through the Narnia series at bedtime and
are studying The Wild Horses of Sweetbriar by Natalie Kinsey-
Warnock in our unit study program. If you are looking for a spring-
board or ideas of which books to read with your children, I highly
recommend the Five in a Row series. http://www.fiveinarow.com
The program uses great books as a spring board for all subjects.
The idea behind this program is that you read the same book every
day for 5 days. We usually do 3 or 4 instead and pick and choose
the topics to discuss or activities to do. Try to find one of the
manuals at your library or via inter-library loan, and borrow a couple
of the books to study. Then you will know if this program works
with your family's style." -- Venus in MA


"What I do is I choose books on EVERYTHING and read, read,
read. While I read, I allow my kids to draw about what we are
reading. Then we choose one of the drawings to go on our
"Timeline" up around the top of the wall. That way, everytime we
read about something they can see where it relates to everything
else in time.

Don't miss out on the benefits of reading something such as, right
now I read the "Dragonlance Saga" books - a chapter or two a day.
I always kind of thought it would be a waste of time to read fantasy
- there is so much "real" stuff out there to learn, right? But my 13
year old is suddenly going wild for writing a fantasy story of her
own or I should say a book because it has gone WAY beyond
story! In fact there are two kids at church that email it to each
other and add things and then send it back. Writing was always
like pulling teeth before this! So now as we read I point out how
they told you everything about the character without just saying it.
How they switch scenes in your mind. Things like that.

We get coloring pages with the presidents at the white house web
site http://www.whitehouse.gov/kids/presidentsday/color/ and while
the kids color them I read on that president from three different
books. One is on the president personally, one on his wife, and
one that tells the things going on in the world and what the presi-
dent did while in office. There is also a book called "Ready set
Remember" by Jerry Lucas. It has pictures such as a woman
washing a ton of laundry "Washing-ton" She has a large adams
apple "Adams" etc. My kids could name every president when
they were 4 years old because of this book!

I also go to "Enchanted learning" and get outline maps and we do
their worksheets on each state, a worksheet (puzzles etc) from a
book I have and then we do the "Which way USA" puzzle book on
that state. Then we color that state on the whole USA outline map.
As we run into state trees and birds and animals we look them up
on the internet." -- Deb

Answer our NEW Question

"I am thinking of starting to homeschool 5 or 6 of my 6 children
this coming July. But I feel I might have a problem. My three
eldest children (age 12, 9 and 8) all have their specific subjects
(my 12 yr old in math, my 9 yr old in poetry and my 8 yr old in
drawing) and they are all very mature for their age and their
talents have been obvious from a very young age (around 3). My
fourth who is 6 yrs old and naturally gets grouped with her 2 older
sisters (8 and 9), has not yet found that subject in which she
shines, and she feels so overshadowed by them that instead of
paving her way forward, she regresses, claims that she does
not want to learn, and shies away from anything the slightest bit
difficult. I'm afraid that by homeschooling them I will only make
matters worse for her. How can I help her find herself and help her
to be comfortable with herself so that she can then move foward
and shine as well? -- Ilana M.


Do you have wisdom for Ilana?

Send to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net


Do you have a burning question that you can't ask just anyone?
Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if our readers can help you out.


Just a quick reminder to order your FREE issue of
Homeschool Digest if you haven't already done so!

To get your free issue, go to this link:


Enter Promo Code: FCH2

Hurry! Time is running out on this special offer!

Editor's Pick

"Mom -- there's nothing to do!"

How often do you hear that question? At our house, it is a rarity
since the "b" word is not allowed -- [bored] -- but it is a legitimate
question when it is coming from a child who is normally creative
and just needs a little jump start once in awhile.

Handling those moments takes creativity... and a plan!

Here is a FUN website for moms (and dads!) to secretly learn the
fine art of... [drum roll, please] ... String Figures!!

Plan ahead to teach your kids these fun tricks, keep a pile of
string handy, and... voila! You will impress their socks off and
they'll have a fun hobby to occupy them for hours -- while you
get other things done. It is also a great hands-on QUIET project
for the wigglers to do while you read aloud to them!

Here is the link:


Have fun stringing!

Beloved Books Online - 15% OFF

You still have time to save at BelovedBooks.com --

Email me TODAY for your "personal" 15% off code -- Good
through June 30th!

Audio stories are WONDERFUL for summer road trips... and
they make memorable and long-lasting birthday presents!

We have exciting Newbery award CDs like The Perilous Road
by William O. Steele, classics like Girl of the Limberlost by
Gene Stratton Porter, and our favorite series -- Sugar Creek
Gang. Also - Pilgrim's Progress and KJV Scripture Songs!


If you send me an email, I'll reply with a personal coupon code
for 15% off your first purchase at Beloved Books. :-)

Email: heather@familyclassroom.net

When in Michigan, please drop in for a visit!
(Directions at the website.)

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Next - Liberty or Death: "Factoids" vs. the REAL Stories of History
Previous - Feedback from Readers, Kids' Corner, Animal Unit Studies

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