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Road Trips & Read Alouds

by Meg Lyons, 4th Grade Teacher

Driving the seemingly endless I-95 from North Carolina to New York in a station wagon with my parents and four older brothers brings back memories of elbows, bickering, boredom, and not enough bathroom breaks. But it also brings back memories of A Wrinkle in Time, Around the World in 80 Days and The Wind in the Willows. Talk about a captive audience!  My mother, never one to miss a trick, used our road trips as one opportunity to bring us all together (literally on the same page) as she read aloud from her favorite books. This continued long after we were all perfectly capable of reading on our own.  

We look back on those times, not all of them in the car, with fondness and nostalgia. The stories we shared, the characters we met, the shared experience of pleading “Just one more chapter!” are some of the best memories of our childhood. My mom knew the benefits of reading to older children, although maybe she just wanted us all to calm down and be quiet for a minute. 

We’ve all been told and recognize the importance of reading aloud to our children from the time they are babies. We’ve seen the research, read the articles, and completely embrace it. It’s so important for their early literacy skills and it’s enjoyable as a bonus. However, for most families, reading aloud slows down dramatically or stops as soon as children learn to read on their own and enter the world of chapter books. The kids don’t need the help reading, in fact, they have reading requirements of their own each night.  And busy schedules make carving out uninterrupted time together quite difficult.  But I’m here to tell you to hold on to it! Don’t let it go!  

These are opportunities not to be missed. They will not only improve your child’s literacy and reading skills, but will bring you together in a relaxing and fun setting, connecting with each other in a way that is meaningful, precious, and difficult to experience in today’s busy lifestyles. I would be very surprised if they don’t turn into your family’s favorite time of the day.  

What books do you remember loving from your childhood? Start with those! And if nothing comes to mind here’s a couple links to some great suggestions: