How to Get the Most From Parent-Child Read Alouds

get the most from read alouds

Are you looking for ways to get the most from your parent-child read alouds?

I’m always on the prowl for ways to cultivate extra bonding, learning, and engagement during these daily sessions with my children. My husband and I read aloud to our children for many reasons. Most important: It affords us extra one-on-one time with each of them. It fosters a soothing nighttime routine our children have grown to expect. As parents, it’s part of our lives (one of the best parts, actually).

Parent-child read alouds
Get the Most From Your Parent-Child Read Alouds

Why Parent-Child Read Alouds Help Kids Thrive

In addition to the opportunity for extra bonding, read alouds promote social, emotional, and character development while increasing attention span. For me, no read aloud would be complete without giving my young listeners time and space to respond to the material.

But if you are pressed for time, and you have zero discussions about the stories you read aloud, the routine is still beneficial because it’s time you spend connecting with one another!

Having said all that, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the link between reading aloud and academic success. Children who are read to get a head start in language and literacy skills and go to school better prepared.

Get this: You can continue cultivating better language and literacy skills by reading aloud to your tweens and teens. The benefits don’t just stop once they are able to read independently. As your kids age, your questions and discussions may look a little different, but they still help to keep engagement up.

Over the years, I’ve developed a list of questions I pose at the end of our parent-child read aloud sessions. First, I ask my child to summarize the plot for me in 1-3 sentences. This helps with listening comprehension. Oftentimes, my child will talk about their personal feelings about the material, and I sit back and let them process. Finally, I focus on one set of questions (character-based, vocabulary-based, prediction, text-to-text connections, or listening-based). I want them to think about what we’ve read!

My middle grade reader talks about the ways we cultivate better language and listening skills during our read aloud sessions

What exactly can you accomplish during a thirty minute read aloud session? A lot!

Questions to Help You Get the Most From Parent-Child Read Alouds

Below, you’ll find some questions that will help you get the most from your parent-child read alouds. The questions are grouped according to type. There are millions of fantastic questions you could put forward as post-reading enrichment. After fifteen years of read alouds, I’ve found the following list to be the most helpful for my family’s purposes.

Character-Based Questions

  • Why do you think that character did ____________?
  • How do you think that character feels?
  • Do you know someone like this character?
  • What makes this character real to you?
  • How are you like/different from this character?
  • What would you have done if you were the character?
  • Did the character change during the story?

Vocabulary-Based Questions

  • What does ________ word mean? (Reread the sentence with the new word and ask your child to determine meaning from context)
  • Did you learn any new words today?

Prediction Questions

  • What do you think will happen next?
  • How do you think the story will end?

Text-to-Text Connections

  • Does this story remind you of anything else you have read or watched on television?
  • Does this character remind you of another fictional character? Why?
  • How is this text similar to things that happen in the real world? How is this text different from things that happen in the real world?

Listening Questions

  • Can you put what we’ve read into your own words?
  • Do you understand what we just read?
  • What is the main idea of the chapter/book?
  • What can you tell me about the book’s theme?

If you have any comprehension questions to add to my list, please post them in the comments section. I’d love to hear from my readers!