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I don't mind reading Cat in the Hat, but my 1st Grader still wants books to be read as part of the night time ritual, even though she reads them fine herself. But Ready Freddy is no fun to read out loud. I can't do different voices for all the children in the book. :)

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Cultural note: First Grade is about 5 or 6 years old? –  DanBeale Aug 26 '11 at 20:55
    
@DanBeale .. First grade in the USA is generally 6 years old. –  tomjedrz Aug 27 '11 at 6:14
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You don't have to do voices. I've never heard about Ready Freddy, but if the problem isn't the "out-loud" but that you simply find the stories themselves boring, then I can recommend Terry Pratchett's "Truckers", "Diggers" and "Wings". They are fun to read even for adults. Also, anything by Astrid Lindgren. –  Lennart Regebro Aug 27 '11 at 8:25
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What's the core of your question? Are you actually asking when to stop, or how to not stop? –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 29 '11 at 6:48
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"If you want your child to be intelligent read them fables, if you want them to be more intelligent read them more fables" -Einstein –  kleineg Aug 13 at 14:34

11 Answers 11

up vote 41 down vote accepted

I would keep doing it as long as the child is interested in it, and might even press the issue a while later.

Jim Trelease is an advocate of reading aloud thoughout (at least) the elementary years, and his research is compelling. He has published collections of stories and book recommendations that are age appropriate as children grow up.

This story of a father and daughter who read aloud together for 8+ years starting in elementary school is compelling.

Do be aware of the difference between reading aloud as a fun, together activity and reading aloud as a trigger to wind down. If the same books are selected over and over, then it is more likely the latter. That I would stop that part of it by selecting more interesting stories and not repeating very often. I would also move the reading aloud earlier in the routine, say before brushing of teeth.

Have you seen the Princess Bride? The story is told as a child being read to by his grandfather.

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I'd have given +1 for the Princess Bride reference alone :) Great answer, and I loved the story about The Streak! –  Beofett Aug 26 '11 at 14:36
    
Big fan of Princess Bride and the story about the streak was inspring, and frankly left me a bit misty-eyed. –  Knox Aug 26 '11 at 15:11
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My kids are 12 and (almost) 10, and I still read to them almost every night. They still love it and are disappointed when it can't happen for whatever reason. We've been through the Harry Potter series, Narnia, Artemis Fowl, Anne of Green Gables, and lots of others. –  Graeme Perrow May 8 '12 at 19:15

I'd say keep reading the bedtime stories for as long as your child is willing to let you! It is not only a great opportunity for parent-child bonding, but it also fosters an appreciation of reading.

Eventually you'll reach a point where they feel they're "too old" for that, and I suspect you'll wind up missing that ritual.

If the stories themselves are the problem, then you have two options:

  1. Find different books. There are lots of different books out there that are age appropriate, and some will be more or less appealing to adults as well as children. If the number of different voices becomes an issue, then classic fairy tales might be a good option, as they tend to have fewer characters involved.
  2. Make up your own stories. This won't work for everyone; not everyone is a good (or even mediocre) story-teller. However, the stories don't have to be complex, or even coherent, so long as they are fun.
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Don't forget, you don't have to finish the entire book in one sitting. For my kids, some of the fun is hearing a chapter a night of a much greater story. –  afrazier Aug 26 '11 at 14:31
    
This is a great answer, and normally I would select it as the accepted answer, but the other answer with the Streak was inspiring. I would give it more than 1 upvote if I could. –  Knox Aug 26 '11 at 15:10
    
By first grade your child should be able to understand your reading much better than they can read themselves. So you can introduce more complex books. I remember my mother reading Robinson Crusoe and the EarthSea series (although that was a little dark) at that age. –  kleineg Aug 13 at 14:32

As a teacher, librarian and parent, I can tell you that there is no end to the benefits of reading to your children. I would encourage that you continue reading aloud with your children even into high school. Beyond the valuable bonding time it provides you with your child it allows for a number of educational benefits. First, even when a child can read, they need to keep building skills such as fluency which can be learned from hearing stories read aloud. Additionally, it sets the tone that reading is important. Being a reader is the number one predictor of student success. If you encourage your child to be a reader and show them it is so important that you take time every day to do it with them, it sends a powerful message to you kids. There is no need to use a bunch of different voices to effectively teach your kids to be readers. I have been reading to my daughter since before she was born and I have every intention to continue reading to her until she is grown and leaves our home.

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+1 Being a reader is the number one predictor of student success. Good motivation point! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 1 '11 at 6:08

No matter how well your child reads in elementary school, there's always going to be plenty of material that's appropriate, but beyond what he or she could read and really understand on his or her own. Reading together is a chance to expose your child to lots of great literature, and that in turn makes it much more likely that they'll read more on their own later. It also improves their vocabulary and reading comprehension, and that gives them a big leg up on standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. It's also a great bonding experience, and it's fun.

Read to your kids for as long as they'll let you.

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Very good point. +1 for the improving vocabulary. –  Knox Aug 27 '11 at 21:04

I've been reading my 1st grader son some classic books which are still a little too hard for him to read on his own. We did the original Winnie the Pooh books this summer and the EB White books before that. I'm planning on Dickens A Christmas Carol for the holiday season. All are books that he will enjoy listening to, but isn't able to read by himself yet.

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Some of my fondest memories are of my dad reading to my siblings and I (before bed and otherwise). I still remember Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty though I'm guessing he skipped over / changed quite a bit of it ;) I can't imagine him ever refusing to read to us. He instilled a love of reading and we were all early readers. I think we all started reading ourselves to sleep by 3rd grade (9 years old). –  mahalie Aug 30 '11 at 17:21

I intend to read to my daughter until she's able to choose and read her own books to herself. Even then, I'll probably read to her occasionally just for a treat from time to time. We also try and vary the complexity of the stories so that we get lots of language and exposure to new words in there.

Sometimes my wife and I read to each other from articles in magazines or online from articles we think would interest the other. In general, we view reading as just another shared activity which our entire family can enjoy and we hope to keep it that way for as long as we can.

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I really urge you to read to your child for as many years as you can, literally. Read every night you can until it is just not possible anymore. My father and I read together until I was an adult. He started by reading to me and then, when I got old enough, we would take turns being the reader. Those are some of my best memories of my dad, and I am so grateful he did that. It was wonderful to look forward to hearing the next chapter before bed.

It makes me emotional thinking about it. There are so many fantastic books out there. To read them together provides a whole treasure trove of ideas, stories, characters, and situations that enhanced our relationship and discussions up until the day he died.

If you are bored with the books you have, get to a library and get some more. The librarians can help you find books that are interesting to both of you. Even if you don't find the books too enthralling now, you are laying the foundation for wonderful times in the future. Persevere!

May I recommend a few books that my daughters (and sons!) and I (and my wife!) have enjoyed? Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Betsy and Tacy by Maude Heart Lovelace are all fantastic. For pictures books, let me suggest When Jesse Came Across the Sea (can't remember the author), Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McClausky (probably a different spelling), and Peter Rabbit by Beatrice Potter.

Happy Reading!

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i do plan to continue reading indefinitely. Thanks to answers like yours and others. –  Knox Sep 4 '11 at 11:51
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absolutely agree with the suggestion to try some of the beginning chapter books. That may make it a little more enjoyable for the parents! I still read to my 5th grader about half the time - the other half, he would prefer to just read on his own before bed. Once he is asleep, I take his copy of the book and read it myself, so I can keep up with him. That way, we can still discuss the book and read parts we especially like to each other. –  michelle Aug 11 at 18:05

I read my kids bedtime stories, we all cuddle up on one or the other's bed. My son is in 1st grade and my daughter is about to turn 5. What I do is read a couple lines then point to a word to have them sound it out. It makes the bedtime story a little longer than just reading the story yourself, but at the same time the kids are still practicing their site words for school.

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very good idea, thanks –  Knox Aug 26 '11 at 18:43
    
You're welcome! –  jlg Aug 29 '11 at 14:45

My middle school was boring throughout until I went to 5th grade (de 5e klas, to be precies - this was in the Netherlands). The difference was that the teacher was a story teller. In history lessons he would tell these stories about what had happened; and weekly he would just read a book for us. All pupils were mesmerized by his stories, every one of us loved it. I was 10 years at the time and my memories of him reading 300 page books are among the most memorable and lasting of my entire education. Another is when my Dutch teacher in high school read a poem, this was when I was 15 or 16. I can still silence rooms of people by reading stuff, or improvising.

In short: you can read to people at any age. But you might like to reverse the roles, and ask to be read a story every once in a while.

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I too remember our 5th/6th grade substitute teacher who read classics to us every day after lunch. The Tell-Tale Heart and Tale of Two Cities were among my most pleasant school memories! –  Marie Hendrix Sep 10 '11 at 17:31

NEVER stop. Maybe add to the ritual having them read to you when they are able (Bob books are great for first graders).

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Totally agree. Don't stop - I still read with my Dad - we'll both get the same book or he'll recommend one to me and I'll recommend one to him and although we don't cuddle up and read together (we're in two different states), we'll discuss what we've read over the phone. –  balanced mama Jul 10 '12 at 4:14

I say keep doing it as long as you can find stories that you both like. Aside from just bonding time it is great for vocabulary and communication skills. I'm 30 and my wife and I take turns reading before bed. My dad read to me when I was little, and my brother and I took turns reading out loud up until high school.

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