Five Ways to Improve Reading Aloud

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His voice lilted and swung, painting the world as much as the text from the book. His children cuddled close, as if their strain could pry the story out sooner.

My dad is a master of reading aloud.

In contrast, I struggled reading to myself—let alone out loud! I have painful memories from high school when I had to frantically rehearse my paragraph before I had to read it to the class. Today, my mom says I read aloud beautifully. What changed?

Here are five things that helped me improve my public reading:

1. Get better at reading in general

I say it often, but I've improved since college. Getting the right kind of glasses helped correct for my unique eye trace needs. As I've gained ability in basic reading, I've gotten better at reading aloud.

2. Read the familiar out loud

I've had morning devotionals for years. But now that I'm married, I read the Bible passage aloud. In many ways, I've spent over a decade rehearsing these passages in my head so "performing" them now is much easier. This has given me confidence as I branch out into new text.

3. Start with simple material

This idea builds off point two above. There is a huge difference between Shakespeare's poetry and that of Dr. Seuss. And I know we'd all love to recount Shakespearean epics with ease... but sometimes we have to start with The Three Little Pigs.

That's one of the nice things about homeschooling: We can start when our kids are young. At that age, reading aloud is easy! The material will grow harder as we improve.

4. Practice with an eager audience

My wife loves to hear me read, especially when she's doing dishes or making dinner. So even if I'm fumbling over words or not being super clear, she's enjoying it. And it's much easier to practice on an audience that's enjoying it than one that critiques your every foible.

5. Mimic the great readers of the world

My dad is an excellent role model to follow. I had years to hear how to read a story aloud. And, honestly, there are a few things that I noticed didn't work so well. I've consciously tried to do something different there. If you didn't have the opportunity to grow up listening to someone read aloud to you, perhaps it's time to get some audio books.

If you've been reading aloud for a while, what have you found helps you perform the stories better?

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