Using Read-Alouds as the Spine of Your Homeschool

Read-alouds are so underrated!

Imagine a homeschool day with no textbooks, no worksheets, and no busy work. Imagine a homeschool day quietly spent reading aloud to your children, all the while feeling perfectly confident that this was enough. Imagine a homeschool day devoid of disconnected subjects and seemingly impractical lessons but instead filled with quiet conversations and sometimes passionate debate.

Sound impossible?

This, my friends, is a homeschool that is centered on read-alouds.

Centering Your Homeschool on Read-Alouds

When it comes to read-alouds, the homeschooling community is certainly aware of their value. Whether families use them for familial bonding, to promote literacy, to bring subjects to life, or for all of the above, one thing’s for sure:

Read-alouds are valuable and parents know it.

However, I have noticed one thing over the past few years… many families don’t understand how versatile they are and how easily they can be the backbone for an entire homeschool curriculum.

For those families who have realized this and do plan their homeschools around this method, it can look a number of different ways (as is the case with any homeschool routine).

Curious? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Homeschooling through Rread-Alouds

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.)

1. Homeschooling with A Literature-Based Homeschool Curriculum

Very often, when people hear the word “homeschool curriculum,” they imagine sets of textbooks. Although this can certainly be the case, and many people use them, they’re not the only choice.

Enter literature-based curriculum.

Literature-based curriculum is just what it sounds like – homeschool curriculum in which living books (either read aloud by the parent or silently by the child) are used to cover required subjects, such as history, science, art, and language arts.

Some examples of this type of curriculum are:

Each of these curricula differ from one another in certain ways. Some may include hands-on activities, while others do not. Some may include mapping and printables, while others do not. Some may include picture books while others include chapter books.

One thing they all have in common, the most important thing, is that they are centered around books. Not textbooks, real books.

That can make all the difference.

2. Combining Read-Alouds with Notebooking

Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective. Education doesn’t have to be filled with busy work, tests, and multiple choice chapter review questions.

In order to understand the true value of read-alouds, I need to point something out:

Books are cross-curricular and multilevel.

Homeschool subjects don’t need to be disjointed. You don’t have to teach each and every subject separately.

Right now, my kids and I are reading Throne of Fire together. In just this one book, we’ve covered geography, ancient history, social studies, science, and Egyptian mythology.

Add in a little bit of notebooking, and you’ve got language arts covered, too.

It’s a very simple approach. Here’s a brief summary of how to do it: (although you can visit here for a more thorough explanation)

Read a chapter to your kids, asking them to narrate (tell back what they remember). You can choose to do this either at the end of the chapter or after every couple of paragraphs or pages.

After the chapter is complete, it’s really helpful to ask them what words or phrases they would like you to write down in a word bank for them. (I do this on a whiteboard.) Finally, let them choose their own notebooking page and ask them to write about what was read. This can be done any number of ways, and I usually let my kids pick their own approach. Some ideas are:

  • a written narration
  • an illustration with a caption (this is especially good for younger kids)
  • a comic strip related to the story
  • a character sketch
  • an alternate ending
  • a list of facts

Keep their notebooking pages together in a 3-pronged folder or a binder, and eventually you’ll have a lovely collection of read-aloud memories.

3. Read-Alouds Followed by Rabbit Trails

This is the method that takes the least amount of preparation, but it is no less effective. The “read-aloud followed by rabbit trails” approach is ideal for letting a child take the reigns on where they want to go with what they’ve learned.

All it simply takes to do this is to read to your children and answer any questions they have or even discuss what was read. Afterwards, allow them some time to explore the topic on their own in any way they choose.

Since every child is different, this will likely look different for every child, but some activities they might pursue could include:

  • writing stories related to the book
  • watching documentaries related to the topic
  • acting out scenes they particularly enjoyed (my kids used to love pretending to churn butter and build cabins after our Little House read-alouds)
  • reading other books about the topic
  • asking to visit sites that may be connected to the book
  • making recipes that were mentioned

What better way to support your children’s learning than by giving them a say in what they do?

Reading aloud to your child is something that is sure to create lifelong memories for both you and your child. Homeschooling with read-alouds as your spine will really just be the icing on the cake.

What are you waiting for?


Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

4 thoughts on “Using Read-Alouds as the Spine of Your Homeschool”

  1. Excellent post and video, Shelly! I have loved our read alouds the most in our homeschooling. We’ve read many classics and other great literature that I know my kids would not have read if they were in public school (for one thing, when do those kids/families find time to read for pleasure?). I remember when my son and daughter and I read The Hobbit together. Their rabbit trails led us to write our own riddles and create dragon-guarding-treasure art. Those are the kinds of memories I’ll always treasure from our homeschooling days. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love reading aloud…but I loathe all things notebooky/crafty/. Do you feel like it’s enough to just read and discuss without out that notebooking component?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I completely agree that read alouds are so important to a child’s education! They are one of the greatest gifts we can give them and will definitely create lifelong memories! Brilliant for bonding as well!
    Asking lots of questions and explaining new words as you go can be great ways to help your children get the most out of the them.
    Super post!


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