As a parent I had envisioned times where my son and I could cuddle together and enjoy books. From the time my son was small, he would run around and play and interact with other things around him as I attempted to read aloud. Some kids have the ability to move around and listen at the same time, but my son wasn’t one of them. He was off into his very vivid world of imaginary play. Books couldn’t complete with that. As he grew closer to Kindergarten age he was able to sit and listen to books with plenty of pictures. Any attempts at having him listen to a chapter book fell flat. He could sit still or lay down as I read, but he wasn’t paying attention.
By the time my son was in first grade I decided to help him learn to listen to books better. Listening skills were going to be important as he entered the school years. I had a goal for him to be able to attend to chapter books without pictures and follow the story as I read. I then went to the library and went through tons and tons of books to select ones that would gradually increase in difficulty so there was more and more writing on the page and less and less pictures.
My son is now in 4th grade and he has no difficulty with listening to books read aloud at all. Going through this list of books and gradually increasing the difficulty was a huge help to his skills. By the end of first grade he was listening to chapter books without needing pictures.
I read about 3 picture books a week for the first half of the school year. I also read a chapter book at a slower pace. Towards the second half of the school year, I was pretty much reading only chapter books aloud. I started off by having him narrate back a sentence after I read it. After a short time, he was able to move to narrating back longer periods. He was not a fan of narration so as he grew in skills and I grew confidence that he was following along with the story, I required less and less and mostly ascertained his comprehension through a few questions or conversation.
Here are the picture books we used. They are listed in the order that I used them. Since my son loved the world of pretend, I included plenty of fairy tales.
Here are the chapter books I read aloud. I read these in order starting at the beginning of the year at a slow pace and gradually increased our pace as the school year progressed. The first ones on the list have some pictures and the last ones on the list have no pictures or very long chapters with few pictures.
My son now loves listening to books read aloud. Since we started this list, we have had many years of snuggling up and enjoying literature together. He still loves movies much more than books and is attracted to books with pictures, but he can find enjoyment in listening to a book read aloud.