One of the greatest gifts adults can give — to their offspring and to their society – is to read to children. — Carl Sagan

Tired of watching TV with all its commercials, “educational” videos, even playing video games? Tired of trying to pry your children away from those video games? Tired of prodding your teens to turn off their phones and join the family?

Try reading chapter books out loud, maybe one chapter each evening with everyone assembled in your family or living room. Children can be lounging on the floor or assembling Lego figures. The only requirement is listening because human beings acquire better language skills by listening.

According to, reading out loud as a family builds connections within your family. It provides a safe way of exploring strong feelings as children of all ages learn to accept and understand their own feelings and learn ways to handle them through the characters’ ways to do so.

Reading out loud provides a time of peace and enjoyment for the whole family. It promotes bonding with all members of the family. Sharing what they have heard and wondering what will happen next promotes communication and encourages conversation.

Reading out loud connects the spoken word with the written word. It strengthens basic knowledge and increases attention span. It develops a strong vocabulary so that when children see the word in their own reading, they recognize and understand its meaning from hearing it in your family read-aloud sessions.

Hearing books read out loud makes it easier to remember and develops long-term memory. Additional memory pathways are formed because of the unique experiences provided by hearing stories. By hearing reading out loud, children can “see” events and ideas unfolding more slowly than on TV or videos; they use their imagination as they watch the unfolding of the story and learn of its different locales (city, village, desert, mountains.)

You can make time disappear. You can bring us to places we have never dreamed of. You can make us feel sorrow and joy and peace. You have great magic. — Grace Lin

Chapter books you might try are classics: “Treasure Island,” by Robert Louis Stevenson; “Robinson Crusoe,” by Daniel Defoe; “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” by Mark Twain; “A Wrinkle in Time,” by Madeleine L’Engle; “The Boxcar Children,” by Gertrude Chandler Warner, even “Little House on the Prairie,” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Hearing these books read out loud might make it easier for your older children as they may be asked to read them for a future literature class.

Other books your family might enjoy: “The Magic Tree House” series by Mary Pope Osborne; “The Indian in the Cupboard,” by Lynne Reid Banks; “The Phantom Tollbooth,” by Norton Juster; “Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry,” by Mildred D. Taylor.

To receive many blessings, read to your children from the womb to the tomb. — Joyce Herzog

If any of these suggestions work for you and your family, please let me know by sending an email to Other comments, suggestions or questions are always welcome.

Southern Arizona resident Bette Mroz is a former teacher, reading specialist and principal. As a mother and grandmother, she continues to help her family learn. She can be contacted at