Emily Cook: The Read Aloud Lifestyle: How To Get the Most Out of Living Books

We all know that reading aloud to our children is important. But the mechanics of actually doing it can often times seem difficult. In this session, I’m going to talk about how to make reading aloud a priority in our homeschools and how to get the most out of reading those living books.

Leave your comments below for Emily’s talk

The Read Aloud Lifestyle: How To Get the Most Out of Living Books to be entered to win cool prizes!

Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 15 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She is also the author of the book A Literary Education: Adapting Charlotte Mason for Modern Secular Homeschooling.

 

About The Author

43 Comments

  1. Brenda

    Loved that you encouraged newer literature. I feel the same way. Wish that you had discussed about children who hate to read and narrate. My youngest is now 12 and absolutely hates reading. Our oldest is 31 and loved reading. I have had reluctant readers but never a child that absolutely dislikes it. I have even tried newer literature like Harry Potter and such but nothing has spoken to him.

    Reply
    • Emily Cook

      My twins are reluctant readers, and one of them absolutely hates reading, so I can sympathize. I try to choose books that I think will appeal to him and I read aloud to him mostly. I’m trying to introduce him to audio books but he complains that they are boring and I read them “better” because I do voices and act out the story. One of the ways I’ve hooked him is by reading aloud a book that I know has a movie adaptation that he’d enjoy. We read the story first and then we have a fun movie night with popcorn, or we go see the movie in the theaters. I do require that he read independently as well, but I’m more lenient about those choices. He recently discovered a manga series called One Punch Man and he willingly read the whole series – I believe it was 12 books. Are they great literature? Not necessarily, but he wanted to read them, so they were important to him. Has your son read any graphic novels or comics? That might be something worth checking out.

      I also have a video I’ve done about reluctant readers that might be helpful: https://youtu.be/RQhSAsYfowk?list=PLH0CYhgpybOneAZR24LljeqOVIKqiNdFq

      Reply
  2. Christina Easthope

    I love books. It is something I want to pass on to my children. This summer my 8 year old read the entire Harry Potter series, and the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series in a 4 month time period. I don’t take enough time to read aloud to my children though and this video has encouraged me to make more time to do that.

    Reply
    • Emily Cook

      Thank you! I’m so glad that I have encouraged you to read aloud!

      Reply
  3. Blair Lee

    Your book selections are awesome! Thanks for the great talk!

    Reply
  4. Jenn

    my 6.5 yearold despises being read to and audio books. i think it could be sensory related. my current mission is to work on independent reading since she only prefers books she can read. I want more literature based curriculum but it is a fight to get her to listen to someone else read to her.

    Reply
    • Emily Cook

      Have you tried buddy reading with her? You take turns where you read a page and then she reads a page…this might help her get adjusted to the idea of listening to someone else read.

      Reply
  5. NADINE

    Such a good talk! Reading together everyday has been the best part of our homeschool life. Instead of “there’s an app for that”, homeschoolers be like “there’s a BOOK for that!” 🙂

    Reply
    • Emily Cook

      Hahahaha – I love that! My kids joke that I have a book for everything, lol.

      Reply
  6. Kat Hutcheson

    Emily, from one bibliophile to another, I just wanted to say that I love this talk!

    Reply
  7. Jackie

    Just like your book, blog, and other YouTube videos I just love so much from you Emily! I feel like each time I pick up on something new to bring into my thought process as my family continues down a charlotte mason inspired path for homeschooling. This time I’m realizing I could be doing more with my oldest’s timeline especially as he gets older. I really love how you went through narration in this since so many times I don’t feel that people “get” it. I know it’s taken me awhile to get into a good flow for it! Thanks for the great talk!

    Reply
    • Emily Cook

      Thank you! I think people tend to overcomplicate narration – my mantra for basically everything in life, but especially in homeschooling is Keep It Simple! 😉

      Reply
  8. Christina George

    My son is a book-lover like his parents (yay!), and I look forward to exploring “Darby” with him. I had not considered using “Charlotte’s Web” as an introduction to death (I had solely thought of friendship). I appreciate that you took your time to share your insights with us!

    Reply
  9. Jeanne

    I read with both of my kids. My mother always left it up to me to read what was assigned. She had never read any of the books required so she was zero help with questions. I refuse to be that parent. Lol. So much great learning going on here. Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Shannon

    Thank you so much for this Emily.
    We are using BYL for the first time with our First Grader and I love how easily it fits into our family. I don’t have to find “busy work” for my 4 year old during school time because he is often curled right up with us, listening along.
    Creating a Timeline was something I have struggled with but thank you for really describing and emphasizing the importance and making it seem easy. I’m off to check out your 101 page on them!

    Reply
    • Emily Cook

      Thank you! I hope you find the Timeline 101 article helpful!

      Reply
  11. Valerie cook

    We truly enjoy BYL! What writing mechanics program do you recommend for concentration during an elementary, middle, and high school year? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Emily Cook

      Honestly, I don’t think you need anything formal in the elementary years – copywork, dictation, and narration are really enough. I have tried a few different things in the middle school and high school years and what I am finding working right now is Essentials in Writing. I appreciate that it’s easy to use – it comes with dvds that teach the lesson – and my twins seem to be doing well with it.

      Reply
  12. fasterbike

    There is so much that I love about this talk! My teen still likes for me to read a novel or short story to him. It’s a great time to spend with each other. We also do paired reading. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a touchstone for inside jokes and other references we make. I especially agree with reading more modern books, which have many of the same themes as classics but are easier to relate to.

    Reply
  13. Amanda

    We started with BYL but then felt compelled to be more “purist” Charlotte Mason based on a multitude of factors (including reading her volumes) and tried something else. It just led to us feeling pressured and stifled and felt like we were forcing the school day. We are now back to BYL and feel like our days are OURS again. BYL implements so much of what drew us to Charlotte Mason, but still allows us to be us and honestly my children are finding so many more connections and enthusiasm because of the flexibility and great books from your program.

    Reply
  14. Sonia

    Thank you for this! I especially love all the book recommendations. My kids and I really enjoy read aloud time. I’ve been surprised how often they ask me to keep reading when I think they’ve had enough!

    Reply
  15. Ellen

    Thank you for your talk on the importance of reading aloud! It’s one of the most favorite parts of our homeschooling experiences. I agree with your comments on not rushing through books. Sometimes they are just SO good and it’s hard to just read a few chapters a day and really take it in and take the time to do activities with it. We are using BYL first grade this year (my kids are 7, 5, 3). My 3 year old is enjoying all of the reading and just participates when she wants to. We love it!
    Also, thank you for all the book recommendations!
    Question: we recently read Charley and the Chocolate Factory (this spring) and we have “voted” to not read it again for our next book in the BYL curriculum. Would you recommend we go on to the next book or just read a similar-sized book in it’s place?

    Reply
    • Emily Cook

      Thank you for watching!

      If you haven’t read it yet, you could substitute James and the Giant Peach, or The BFG for Charlie. Really all of Roald Dahl’s books are fantastic, but those are personal family favorites, and also about the same length.

      Reply
      • ellen_prescott

        We had a Roald Dahl spring, so we read all those as well! As well as Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Witches. I’ll double check to see if there are any other ones we might have missed. Thanks!

        Reply
  16. sara frie

    ty so much for the talk. i’ve been excited for yours. this philosophy is what i hope to incorporate into our home school.

    Reply
  17. JENNY

    I liked the book recommendations as well; I actually did a screenshot whenever you had an interesting one up so I didn’t have to take notes….which is funny after hearing you talk about copywork 🙂 I think you got to the heart of your talk around 23 minutes; that was where I really honed in on it the best. Talking about simple ways to expand beyond the reading was very useful. I am so afraid of hurting the love of the reading that I sometimes don’t want to push to do more.

    Reply
  18. Megan L.

    This may have been my favorite talk so far! I ordered your book from amazon. I was so excited I even paid for one day shipping! Lol. Thank you so much for all of the amazing suggestions.

    P.S. I love the Harry Potter books more than I can put into words.

    Reply
  19. Tiffani

    Thank you for this. I enjoyed it very much and love our BYL curriculum. We are in the beginning weeks of Kindergarten as well as Medieval (2nd grade). We have thoroughly enjoyed all your read aloud choices. We have also just recently started using your “morning baskets” idea and I’m floored at how much it has transformed our days. Breakfast isn’t happening until a bit later but we are getting so much more done when everyone is still in a good mood and feeling refreshed in the morning. Thank you again!

    Reply
  20. Tracy K

    Really enjoyed this talk! My kids are still young (the oldest is 4) so we read aloud all the time but the reinforcement to continue as they learn and grow is wonderful! Will have to watch again to write down all the books and resources you named! Will definitely have to look into BYL curriculum as we are all avid readers and I love the idea of building everything around books!

    Reply
  21. Carissa

    Emily, thank you for this talk! One of my major homeschooling goals for this year is to make sure that we are making time for daily read-alouds! We just recently reached a point where both of my children are interested in read-aloud chapter books (not just picture books) and I am loving it so much!
    Last year I also realized that letting them color while I was reading actually helped them to pay better attention to the story. We do this daily now! I love the idea of letting them build with clay while doing read-alouds. We will definitely be giving this a try this week!
    Also, aren’t those illustrated Harry Potter books beautiful!? I was devastated when I tried to read the 1st one and my kids were not interested! 🙁 I will be trying again later this year and purchased your Harry Potter unit study to try along with it!

    Reply
  22. Mel williams

    Thank you so much for a wonderful talk! Books have always been a huge part of my life (my Grandmother was a librarian during the Depression!) I’m trying hard to instill that love of books in my kids. I have both advanced readers, and very reluctant readers. Read alouds have always been a big part of our homeschooling. My reluctant reader 14 and 10 yo boys cuddle with me most nights and we’re currently working our way through LOTR. We listen to a ton of audio books in the car, and my younger kids get multiple books a day.
    Thank you again!

    Reply
  23. Cassie b

    Love the focus on keeping it simple which makes it actually get done! I need that reminder every now and then. Thanks so much for creating your curriculum.

    Reply
  24. Laura B.

    Great ideas and book suggestions. I need to watch again and take notes.

    Reply
  25. Alyssia

    Great talk! Love your take on book selection. You are awesome! Love all you do!

    Reply
  26. Martina

    Thank you for the talk! We’re doing BYL K and I’m sometimes looking for extra books, or substituting the ones the library does not have from the list of extra books provided. This really helps me figure out which ones fit in well. I also appreciate the background info on Charlotte Mason – as a new homeschooler, I haven’t really read anything by her after trying very early into my research and just not getting along with her style of writing…

    Reply
  27. Tristan Lawler

    Great talk! Reading aloud for hours a day is our favorite part of homeschooling!

    Reply
  28. Iris

    I’m going to have to get your book! And I love, love, LOVE your living math book suggestions.

    Reply
  29. TabitHa S

    Always enjoy your talks, Emily!

    Reply
  30. Heidi Christine Cole

    Thank you for the encouragement. We are a family filled with many different reading ability levels. I have a wiggler. He can read quickly, and completely understand what he is reading. But doesn’t want to be tied down to it,, he wants to be on the monkey bars. I have a girl who I can’t keep in books (seriously I can’t keep up with her reading she is so fast and devours everything). And my oldest has a reading disability, which makes all of this hard. I am finding, that now that we switched to a BYL curriculum, it is helping him to compose/write a bit more easily. We always read, but never as consistently with books focused on one topic like we are with BYL. You gave me great insight & I can’t wait to read some of your books.

    Reply
  31. Teri saunier

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge! I’ve been curious about living books and this was exactly what I needed. Very informative.

    Reply
  32. Julie

    Let me begin by saying, “Wow!” This was an amazingly, informative presentation about living books. I will definitely be revisiting it to take notes and gather ideas for books to use in our studies. I’m so happy that it will be a permanent fixture on the SEA website! Thank you for such a brilliant outlook on reading!

    Reply

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