The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids

The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids

Connecting deeply with our kids can be difficult in our busy, technology-driven lives. Reading aloud offers us a chance to be fully present with our children. It also increases our kids’ academic success, inspires compassion, and fortifies them with the inner strength they need to face life’s challenges. As Sarah Mackenzie has found with her own six children, reading aloud...

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Title:The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids
Author:Sarah Mackenzie
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The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids Reviews

  • Kristin Runyon

    Those are Sarah Mackenzie’s words from Chapter 6 of her new book

    , but they aptly express my own feelings of the gift her new book brings to the reader. This book is a resourc

    Those are Sarah Mackenzie’s words from Chapter 6 of her new book

    , but they aptly express my own feelings of the gift her new book brings to the reader. This book is a resource manual, a whisper of encouragement, and an inspiring story of her personal read-aloud journey. Yes, there are wonderful booklists for various ages, hand selected for their ability to be read-aloud. Oh, but it is so much more than just a list of books! Sarah sets forth her own reasons for why reading aloud is important for children and families while supporting it with research. For me though, the most treasured aspect of this book are the questions, the conversations she helps you as reader, parent, educator have with children and young adults. Conversations that train thinking, inspire compassion, and widen the world for the next generation far better than any comprehension test could ever accomplish. Conversations that build a relationship where beauty is shared, hard questions can be asked, and truth is ever present.

  • Cassiejoan

    This is the first book I’ve binge read in a long long time. I knew a lot about the importance of reading aloud to kids and this is already part of our family culture, but the book is really really good at reminding me why I do this and gave me some practical tips for doing it. Plus, I need reminders to keep me going, otherwise I get bogged down in the day to day, forgetting why I am doing what I am doing. A great reminder and inspiration. And of course, book recommendations 😉

  • Mary Prather

    Yes, I finished this book in one day.

    The beauty in this book lies in its appeal to parents of children of ALL ages. I found myself greatly encouraged to continue reading aloud to my teens.

    Sarah’s simple - yet elegant - writing style make this book a joy to devour in one setting, or to pick up in a few minutes each day as you have time.

    The book lists alone make this book worth it, but the rest of the book is just as good.

    ALL parents need to read this book!

  • Hannah

    Man, I loved this book! To quote Anne, I’m pretty sure Sarah & I would be “kindred spirits” in real life! My biggest takeaways:

    1. Reading aloud with your kids, no matter their age, is one of the best ways to show you truly care and prioritize them, bc in that moment you are putting everything aside & focusing on nothing but connecting with them through the story.

    2. It doesn’t have to be perfect or for very long, just do it. 10 minutes every other day is all it takes to start the habit.

    Man, I loved this book! To quote Anne, I’m pretty sure Sarah & I would be “kindred spirits” in real life! My biggest takeaways:

    1. Reading aloud with your kids, no matter their age, is one of the best ways to show you truly care and prioritize them, bc in that moment you are putting everything aside & focusing on nothing but connecting with them through the story.

    2. It doesn’t have to be perfect or for very long, just do it. 10 minutes every other day is all it takes to start the habit.

    3. Doing it first thing in the morning or adding it to something you already do consistently, like snack time or meal times, makes it so much easier to start & stick with it.

    Great read, can’t recommend it enough!!!!

  • Kaytee Cobb

    My first purchase of 2018 for myself! I decided to get around my book-buying ban by calling this a "homeschool resource" because I was assured that I'd be referring to it again and again, so it's more like a reference book. I imagine my enablers will be happy to know that they are correct. Sarah Mackenzie's wisdom from her podcast on this topic has been artfully distilled down into this book, to the tune of me wanting to buy 10 more copies so I just have them on hand for everyone I know. Especia

    My first purchase of 2018 for myself! I decided to get around my book-buying ban by calling this a "homeschool resource" because I was assured that I'd be referring to it again and again, so it's more like a reference book. I imagine my enablers will be happy to know that they are correct. Sarah Mackenzie's wisdom from her podcast on this topic has been artfully distilled down into this book, to the tune of me wanting to buy 10 more copies so I just have them on hand for everyone I know. Especially the people who ask me about how I got my own kiddos so addicted to reading and how they want to change the reading culture in their own homes but don't know how. (What? You don't have these conversations??). Sarah has all kinds of knowledge as to how to incorporate reading, how to get your kids to fall in love with reading, what to do with audiobooks or late readers, why it's important to keep reading aloud even to your teens, what to do with fidgety listeners, and even how to ask good questions about the books your kids are reading in order to create a book club culture in your home. Finally, book lists at the end (20 titles for each of 4 age ranges) will enable you to start building your personal collection in a meaningful and intentional way. The whole thing is just gold.

  • Julie

    As a fan of the Read Aloud Revival podcast from the very beginning, I was thrilled when I learned that Sarah Mackenzie was writing this book. I am someone who learned much from the podcast and experienced deepened relationships with both of my kids once I started reading aloud to them again on a regular basis. If you too have been a frequent listener of the podcast, much in the book will seem familiar to you. However, there are plenty of fresh ideas and inspiration that make this book worthwhile

    As a fan of the Read Aloud Revival podcast from the very beginning, I was thrilled when I learned that Sarah Mackenzie was writing this book. I am someone who learned much from the podcast and experienced deepened relationships with both of my kids once I started reading aloud to them again on a regular basis. If you too have been a frequent listener of the podcast, much in the book will seem familiar to you. However, there are plenty of fresh ideas and inspiration that make this book worthwhile.

    Sarah’s writing is friendly, warm, and conversational. She proposes early on that reading aloud to our kids is the best use of our time and energy as parents, and then sets out to support that claim. She shares many stories from her own experience of reading aloud to her six children over the years. She also draws from the work of Jim Trelease, Andrew Pudewa, Katherine Paterson, Dr. Joseph Price and others to substantiate the effectiveness of reading aloud to our children for academic success, for nurturing empathy and compassion, and for creating and strengthening the bond within the family.

    Sarah has filled the book with practicable, easy to apply techniques for making reading aloud successful in your home. She offers methods for getting started and for creating a culture of reading in the home. She supplies the reader with ten questions for parents to ask to have meaningful conversations with our kids, and lists activities for kids to do while listening to a book. She also teaches us how to become a literary matchmaker for our kids, offers tips for what to do when you hit a speed bump, and she even takes on the potentially intimidating task of starting read alouds with teenagers. The last section of the book contains a booklist of great read alouds for all ages with a brief description of each book.

    I’d recommend The Read Aloud Family to any parent who, as Sarah puts it in the book, wants to go “all-in for our kids” and create connections that really matter.

    I received a free ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    2nd reading - July 2018 Even better the second time through. I've started giving this book as my go-to baby shower gift for new moms. I can't think of anything better!

  • Susy

    Awesome! How did I get more books for my TBR list while reading this book? Great resource for other books and loved the practical examples of why reading aloud is so important.

  • Tammam Aloudat

    A great idea done with a few things that made it unreadable for me.

    I do not mind what an author of a book believes in as long as it doesn't infringe on the technical content of the book. This isn't the case here at all. Mackenzie is a very religious person which she explained almost immediately in the beginning of the book, that is not a problem for me and I have found that she wrote reasonably good argument in the first few chapters.

    However, when she decides to say that some books should be tak

    A great idea done with a few things that made it unreadable for me.

    I do not mind what an author of a book believes in as long as it doesn't infringe on the technical content of the book. This isn't the case here at all. Mackenzie is a very religious person which she explained almost immediately in the beginning of the book, that is not a problem for me and I have found that she wrote reasonably good argument in the first few chapters.

    However, when she decides to say that some books should be taken literally like history books and scripture as opposed to fiction, then she loses me... I don't care that she believes that the bible is a literal history, there would be no convincing her otherwise, I care that she doesn't need to shove that into my throat when what I want to read about is reading aloud for kids.

    The second issue is that this book is mostly referenced listeners of her book and as far as I could read before it became too preachy for my taste, no academic studies or expert opinions, no statistics or proofs, at least that far...

    I know one answer will be that atheists and non religious people write about their (lack of) faith when they write books, and that is true when they are writing about that specific topic of religion and religiosity, but not when they are writing about other topics where their concern is delivering technical knowledge of those topics.

    Anyhow, I did work my way through a few chapters, and couldn't do more. I rarely ever toss a book before I finish reading it but this is one of those rare occasions.

  • Katie Fitzgerald

    The Read-Aloud Family is the inevitable book to arise from Sarah Mackenzie's inexplicably popular Read-Aloud Revival podcast and website. In this book, Mackenzie tells how she first discovered reading aloud, and then provides advice for doing so with supporting anecdotes from her own life. The book concludes with a series of annotated book lists.

    I have long felt that the success of the alleged "Read Aloud Revival" that Mackenzie champions is a bit of a hoax. Though Mackenzie claims she only disc

    The Read-Aloud Family is the inevitable book to arise from Sarah Mackenzie's inexplicably popular Read-Aloud Revival podcast and website. In this book, Mackenzie tells how she first discovered reading aloud, and then provides advice for doing so with supporting anecdotes from her own life. The book concludes with a series of annotated book lists.

    I have long felt that the success of the alleged "Read Aloud Revival" that Mackenzie champions is a bit of a hoax. Though Mackenzie claims she only discovered reading aloud for the first time at age 20, when her oldest child was a baby, this should not suggest to anyone that reading aloud was a lost art that Mackenzie has single-handedly resurrected. In Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton talks about the man in the yacht who thinks he has discovered England, not realizing that anyone has landed there before him. He was talking about his journey toward the Christian faith when he wrote about how he "fancied [he] was the first to set foot in Brighton and then found [he] was the last," but I think it is also an apt metaphor for describing Mackenzie's relationship to reading aloud. She had never considered the importance of reading aloud, and therefore she assumes no one else has either. But most of us have been here in England all along.

    This book gives very basic advice, most of which is either common sense or simply amateurish. Directives for developing a read-aloud habit are interspersed with personal anecdotes about her kids which often give rise to banal metaphors that are then beaten to death over several pages. Some of the advice just isn't good, such as the assertion that the only two criteria to consider when evaluating a book are appeal to all ages and a sense of hope, and some of it is a mere regurgitation of quotations from articles, books, and studies that have already presented this information more cogently, and in better prose. Though she says a few times that reading aloud should be simple, she undermines this message by over-complicating the process at every turn and by providing condescending examples for each point she makes. (The worst of these occurs in the chapter about "compelling questions." At one point, she suggests asking a child reader what a character in a given book fears most, then provides three examples, all of which consist of the same exact question: "What is Henry Huggins most afraid of? What is Janner Ibigy most afraid of? What is Corrie ten Boom most afraid of?" Surely, anyone who can read could have figured out how to pose that question without help.)

    Though the book is published by a Christian publisher (Zondervan) and is labeled as a Religion book right above the ISBN on the back cover, there is next to nothing in this book about how Mackenzie's faith informs her family's read-aloud culture. There is an assumption on her part that the reader desires to raise Christian children who love God, and she includes recommendations for Bibles, and makes casual references to parables, but she completely misses the opportunity to provide Catholic families like hers with any advice unique to their (our) particular values and morals. This would have been the only redeeming quality of the book for me, and it was just not there.

    The book lists in the final section of the book are very hit or miss. Some of the books are so new, it seems foolish to put them on any kind of list without knowing how they'll stand the test of time. Others are books written by Mackenzie's friends, all of whom have blurbed the book and appeared on her podcast, and most of whom are mentioned multiple times in the text of the book. The lists are also very short - there are dozens of blog posts and library websites out there that provide more comprehensive lists.

    The countless positive reviews of this book are baffling to me. As I've blogged about before, reading aloud is not that hard to begin with, and, frankly, if a handbook is needed, Jim Trelease has already taken care of it. The fact that The Read-Aloud Family is so popular with #bookstagrammers and other parents who already read to their kids makes me think it's less about the quality of the book, and more about the fact that the content reaffirms what these readers already know and experience. But I am seeking more than just a pat on the back when I read books like this, and this one had nothing else to offer me. My recommendation would be to skip this book and instead look for Annis Duff's wonderful books Bequest of Wings: A Family's Pleasure with Books (1944) and Longer Flight: A Family Grows Up with Books (1955). Not only is Duff an expert (she was a librarian), but she also writes beautifully and in great depth about her family's relationship to books.

    This review also appears on my blog,

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