A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School

Reading: It's A Family Affair

Posted by Lynn Clements on November 16, 2015

blogreadaloundThe shorter days and longer nights of the season offer the perfect time to read aloud with your children. Even if your child  is reading independently, it is still important to read aloud together. It is good for children to hear fluent readers and reading aloud offers the opportunity for them to learn more challenging vocabulary and content.

When reading picture books together, make sure to take time to look at the illustrations or photos together. Talk about what you notice. Search for the visual details that add so much to the story. This helps develop visual literacy skills that are important for children. Academic skills aside, reading together is a cozy way to spend a chilly evening with your child!

In the coming winter months, as you consider what to read to your family, keep in mind some of these new titles, both fiction and informational:

  • A Fine Dessert, by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall, is a beautiful picture book to enjoy at Thanksgiving. This lovely story was just named one of the New York Times Best Illustrated Books for Children. It tells the story of four families - over the span of centuries - enjoying a fine dessert.

  • Imaginary Fred, by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers, is a new story about the ever-changing nature of children’s friendships. Jeffers’ pen-and-ink artwork adds humor to this story told from the perspective of the imaginary friend.

  • Dory Fantasmagory, by Abby Hanlon, is similar to Clementine and Ramona the Pest. It is the first in a new chapter book series for readers in grades 1-3. Dory has a wild imagination and gets her siblings in on the fun, often to the dismay of their parents.

  • Absolutely Almost, by Lisa Graff, is great read for children in grades 4 and 5. It is the story of Albie, a 5th grader who is not very good at a lot of things, but eventually learns that being himself is the most important thing - and isn’t that what we hope for all of our children to learn?

Nonfiction is not usually something we think about reading aloud, but there are some wonderful options for children:

  • The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery, by Sandra Markle, is a fascinating book with stunning photographs.

  • Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats, by Sy Montgomery, is another great option. She is an accomplished author of nonfiction for children and this is her latest book.  It is filled with gorgeous photos by Nic Bishop and is an engaging story about their work in Africa studying the behavior patterns of cheetahs.

And lastly, let’s not forget those fun books that are suitable for all ages. The incomparable Kate DiCamillo has three that I highly recommend:

  • Flora and Ulysses, the 2014 Newbery winner

  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, a novel similar to the Velveteen Rabbit and

  • The Tale of Despereaux, a wonderful quest starring a mouse and a princess.

Now, put your slippers on, cuddle up with the kids, and read aloud together!


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Topics: Help with learning

Lynn Clements

Written by Lynn Clements

Lynn Clements is the Lower School Library Media Specialist at Westtown School. She has 30 years of school library experience and a great love of children’s literature. She collaborates with teachers to design inquiry-based research projects and co-teaches lessons that are integrated into the classroom curriculum. Lynn has worked extensively in the area of curriculum and instructional design, most recently working on the Pennsylvania State Model Library Curriculum. In 2013, she was the recipient of the Outstanding School District Library Media Program in Pennsylvania. Lynn considers it her greatest success when a child asks for a book “just like the last one.”