When we think about reading aloud with children, we usually think about reading books, and books are great. But, we shouldn’t forget about all the other reading materials available. The key point is that reading opportunities are all around us; so, we should use them, instead of only reading aloud from books.
When we stop to notice, we see print all around us. This print includes signs, advertisements, and information on packages. For example, packages are important to read. When we are comparing two products, children can help us calculate which product has the best price. Packages also have important information about nutrition, including the presence of unhealthy ingredients, such as sugar and other sweeteners, as well as healthy ingredients that provide such nutrients as iron and calcium.
Online shopping provides many more reading opportunities. Of course, we do not want children to believe everything they read on companies’ e-commerce portals. We need to help them to read critically. For instance, companies often make claims, such as that a product is the best of its kind, but give little or no evidence to support those claims. Also, children need to begin to recognize traps and avoid them, such as free offers that lead to charges after a month or so.
Spiritual works are very important in some people’s lives. These include works linked to religion, as well as philosophy, such as those about the thoughts of Confucius and other famous thinkers from the past. Reading from these works offers many opportunities for meaningful discussions with children, including discussion about such values as generosity and honesty.
Comics, including manga, are often popular reading materials among children. The colourful visuals and action-filled plots attract many children’s attention. Some people worry that comics do not encourage good habits among children. Instead, these people want children to do more “serious” reading, so that they can learn skills and information that is likely to appear on exams. However, the view among most reading experts is that almost all reading is good reading. Whatever attracts children to reading should be encouraged. Furthermore, the dialogs we have while reading aloud with children provide us with opportunities to counter any possible bad influences in what we read.
Personal communications, including letters, thank you notes, and birthday cards, connect reading with children’s interest in social relations. Nowadays, these communications can also be online, such as electronic greetings cards. In addition to reading personal communications aloud with children, we can also help children write responses. While doing this, we can teach them lessons in social etiquette.
Trip planning, even day trips to places near where children live, supplies reading opportunities. For example, Singapore has a Science Centre with fascinating exhibits for people of all ages about the wonders of science. In preparation for a visit to the Science Centre, children can join us in reading for such information as opening times on different days, prices for people of different ages, options for travelling to the Science Centre, nearby food possibilities, and current exhibits to see at the Centre.
Last but not least, instructions can be another source of reading materials. One especially favorable aspect of instructions as reading materials is that immediately upon reading, we and the children can test our comprehension by trying to carry out the instructions. An example of instructions that are fun to carry out are recipes. First, we need to read through recipes to be sure that we have all the necessary kitchen equipment, such as a blender, or some substitute. Second, do we have all the necessary ingredients? If not, we need to put together a shopping list – something else we will need to read. My own encounters with recipes do not always end in the creation of delicious dishes. Nonetheless, the kids and I can still have a good time, and if the dish we create does not look anything like the photo in the cookbook, we can laugh and say, “Better luck next time!”
Summary: There exists so much else than books to read aloud with children. We need to keep our eyes open for these additional read aloud possibilities.