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Read Me A Story….or Why I Know ‘Go Dog Go’ By Heart

Story Time is an iconic part of American childhood. Whether it was from a teacher or a librarian, most Americans fondly remember listening to books. My number one favorite book from childhood, The Phantom Tollbooth, came to me courtesy of my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Johnson.

For parents looking to improve their child’s reading skills or enjoyment of reading, I always have one piece of advice to start with: read to them before bedtime, regularly. It doesn’t have to be a marathon; even one book helps establish a routine and a bond.


Will children often choose the same book over and over, boring adults out of their minds? Yes. Not only do many children enjoy the familiarity, this repetition helps develop future reading skills. If you can’t stand Go Dog Go one more time, don’t take it off the menu. Instead, alternate who gets to make the selection.

Eventually, you can move up to having the child read to you, at least some of the time. It’s a chance for them to show off how awesome they are at reading, not a job they have to do or a test to check their fluency.

Although nothing can take the place of having someone read to you in person, sometimes a book can be a bit too long, or parents might want their child to listen to a native speaker. A multitude of YouTube channels exist where people read books out loud. Sometimes I’ll assign a book to a student as homework to read to me at our next class. For this kind of homework, I send a link to a book on one of these channels so that they can be confident in knowing how the words are supposed to be pronounced.

English spelling and pronunciation are notoriously inconsistent, so I don’t expect students to read something to me without hearing it first. Reading something “cold” (never seen before) is a common testing method, but not one I use frequently or recommend.

Although Read Aloud channels for picture books and younger readers abound on YouTube, and adults buy audio books, I haven’t found as many options for middle readers. In the interest of filling that gap, I’ll be launching my own channel, Reading Rivers, in May on YouTube.

If you’d like to be notified when the channel launches, just shoot me a message on the contact form below.



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