Ageless, limitless, and always a pleasure, read alouds are a hit with everybody, so gather your child about you and give this ending from Roald Dahl’s “Three Little Pigs” a try:

“Ah, Piglet, you must never trust
Young ladies from the upper crust.
For now, Miss Riding Hood, one notes,
Not only has two wolfskin coats,
But when she goes from place to place,

You want to know what happened, don’t you? You’re wondering how Riding Hood got hooked up with the three little pigs and not one but two wolves in the first place. And what’s with that traveling case? Pure magic, read-alouds, so start right away spinning tales. Then, when the time is right, consider book clubbing it for your son or daughter, too.

There’s a strong connection between children who are read to and those who love to read—an important indicator of academic success and a love for learning. We’re never too young—think infancy—or too old to hear a good story, so let the performances begin. It’s story time! At home, you be the storyteller; in the car, let a book-on-tape take over. Older siblings make great readers, too. Rehearse first, so you’re comfortable with the story line, and less likely to get tongue-tied, lose your place, or bury your head in the book. Then set the stage by checking out the cover and any illustrations together and also make some predictions. Then, it’s show time: maintain eye contact as much as possible, be dramatic—making hand gestures, changing facial expressions, tone, pace, and volume. Also alter your voice for different characters or have family members take parts. Finally, stop reading before you get to the end, so your child can guess how things will turn out. Then compare the endings and decide which is better. Remember: keep it light; keep it fun. Here are a few read-aloud book suggestions:

1. Jim Treleases’ The New Read-Aloud Handbook and Hey! Listen to This: Stories to
Read Aloud

2. Native American Legends and Activities, by Mari Lu Robbins

3. Tales for Telling from Around the World, selected by Mary Medlicott

4. Tales Alive! Ten Multicultural Folk Tales with Activities, retold by Susan Milford

Read alouds bring stories to life; book clubs keep the conversations going, reaching out in new and exciting ways. Oprah made it fashionable, and now we’re all talking about books. Why not kids, too—sitting among friends in a home setting, actively engaged in story-talk? After all, membership in a book club is very grown up and, oh, so, popular. Based on a mutual experience, such gatherings are social in nature, and what could be better than that? Meetings allow kids to express opinions, share insights, agree, disagree, learn and appreciate—with no follow-up tests. Surrounded by well-chosen novels, book clubs are a tool for self-discovery and the honing of reading and communication skills—a perfect way to fuel a life-long love for the written word. So, talk it up with your child’s friends’ parents, gather everyone around and peruse a stack of appropriate books. Then make your choices, set up a meeting and location schedule, and dig in. As author Kathy Highfield explains, “We really underestimate how powerful conversation is for kids. They’re taking ownership of their learning. They’re really connecting with books and looking at them as more than something to get through.” It doesn’t get any better than that.