In a life before Stay-at-Home Mom I taught prep (4-5yr olds) and Year One (5-6yr olds). And no matter how busy the teaching days were I made sure we grabbed at least one book and enjoyed it, just for the hell of it.
It was very simple.
Take 30 odd children, add a few over sized cushions and find a spot away from other classrooms under a tree. Add a couple of great picture books and read.
There were two criteria for my book choices.
One- they must be fun.
Two- they must not be for the purpose of trying to teach kids anything.
I just wanted to read. I love to read aloud. Give me a book and a kid or two or three, and I will bring the voices the facial expressions. More importantly, I will bring me. And together, with those little eyes watching, we will weave enough dramatic magic to breathe life into that book.
And here's the big secret.
It. Is. Not. Hard.
Parents used to ask me how I held the attention of 30 squiggly kids when they couldn't get their soccer playing, mud-slinging son to sit still for anything other than a feed. My answer was this. I am completely carried away by what I am reading.
I am in the moment. I am sold out to the words. I am who I am. Completely.
I am reading as much for me as I am for my little audience. I am not racing to the end of the book. I am not ticking a curriculum requirement box. I am not trying to fill in time. I am not even watching the clock.
I used to read last thing before the end of the day and when that bell went everyone, including me, went, "Ohhhh!"
Why am I sharing this?
Because I'd hate to think that you were missing the fun. And just quietly, I suspect that reading aloud makes you a better writer ;)
Grab a kid. (well, get permission first if they are not your own:) and a book that you like the look of. There is no right book. Only the book that interests you. Because if it interests you enough to read it then chances are you'll be enthused when reading. Then drop your inhibitions. Honestly. Kids really like stupid. If you feel stupid reading aloud then you are probably doing it just right. And it is only the kids watching anyway. What do you care? Have fun. Be a kid for as long as it takes you to get to The End. If that means you want to do all the voices then do them, if that means you'd like to sit quietly and share the word magic in a more settled way, then do that too. Don't try to teach. Just laugh and be laughed with. Whatever you do, Do. Not. Make. It. Hard. Work.
Now I am a Mom one of my favorite activities is still reading aloud. My boys love The Very Hungry Caterpillar's deep voice (you didn't know he had a deep voice hey! You didn't even know he had any lines to say in that book did you!) They love the tiny squeaky voice of the massive bear in 'Where's my teddy?' (I like that one too!) That voice still gets my eldest son giggling, and he has heard me do it for years.
The best lessons about reading and writing come when no one is trying to teach anything. You are just soaking up a great story. Enjoy. Soak it up. Get dripping wet in those words. :) Play. And watch the magic of reading happen. Then watch what happens when you go to write. Even if you do not write for children. Even if your tale is dark and serious. The magic still works.
What about you? Got any great tales of reading fun to share? What is the most fun you and a kid have had with a book?
BTW- children don't need to be young for this to work. I have also read aloud to older children who eventually crack under the pressure of fun and enjoy being read to again.