Family Read-Alouds: Exploring the World Through Literature

Reading to kids at bedtime is important — but do you know why? See how read-alouds can be fun and informative for your homeschool lessons.

When I recently posted on Facebook about a book I was reading aloud to my kids, I was surprised by the number of people who commented. Being read to at bedtime was a treasured memory for several of my friends. Sometimes reading at night feels more like a strategy to get kids into bed than a way to build childhood memories, but as we transitioned from public school to homeschooling, our reading time took on yet one more purpose. It became a launching pad for exploring our world.

Reading as a Learning Opportunity

We were a few books in to the Chronicles of Narnia series and were reading, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Much of the content of the story revolves around the ship, “The Dawn Treader” itself, including sailing terminology such as “starboard” and “port” and names for the parts of the ship. I decided to get some more information on sailing ships and exploration to help us better understand the story. I found some excellent resources at the National Geographic Kids website. From there, we decided to learn even more about navigation and exploration. We read biographies of Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, and Ferdinand Magellan, and I found this fantastic resource at our library that included activities (which we did) such as making a homemade compass. We did art projects like designing a compass rose, designed sails and learned about different types of triangles, and learned more about using the stars for navigation and read books on constellations.


Using Books In Homeschool Lessons

While reading this book, the kids were inspired to write their own stories of adventure and discovery. Our family “read-aloud” time led to lessons in math, science, history, geography, writing, vocabulary, and I even chose spelling words to go along with that theme. The only thing missing from what I suppose in the homeschool world would be described as a “Unit Study” was a field trip to a real ship, which I wanted to do. There used to be a replica of Columbus’ ship the “Santa Maria” about an hour drive from us, but when I looked into it, the ship had been closed for renovations.

I was happy with how our time with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was spent. The kids were engaged, interested, and we followed the path our interests led us down. It wasn’t a big plan I made beforehand, and we were working through other curriculum (especially math) at the time. But this approach to learning is something that we have stuck with through the years.

Exploring the World Through Reading

The world is big. Maybe that is why taking responsibility for educating our own children can be so overwhelming at times. But just get out there! Explore your world, use your library, learn new things. I love the ability to dive deep into finding out more about the world. I love that good literature inspires us. It inspires us to know more, it inspires us to create more. We aren’t just teaching our children facts, but how to learn, how to be curious, how to find answers. No matter what curriculum you use or whether you are new or old to homeschooling, I hope you are able to find that inspiration today.

And of course I hope my kids grow up with happy memories of their mommy reading to them at night and of all the worlds we would go to together in our pajamas and all wrapped up in our blankets. And I hope those worlds give them dreams of what good things they can do to impact their own world. Someday. When they grow up.



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About the All-Star Blogger

Melanie is a home educator of her four children ages 6, 9, 10, and 12.  Melanie’s background is in science and she has a bachelor’s degree in Biology.  Before becoming a mom, she worked in biomedical research.  Melanie has many interests and whether it is science, literature, history, art, or music, she enjoys learning alongside her kids and helping them discover new things about the world.  Her kids are involved in 4-H, Girl Scouts, horseback riding, piano, drums, and some sports, but at the same time, Melanie guards her family’s time and believes in leaving enough space in the schedule for rest and relationships.