Reading Concurrently Rather Than Out Loud

Why We Like Reading Concurrently Rather Than Out Loud and What That Means

At the end of last year, I shared with you the five books we most enjoyed reading together in 2015. My comment that we enjoy reading concurrently rather than out loud together sparked at least one reader’s interest on our facebook page, so I wanted to share a little more about that.

Why We Like Reading Concurrently

I have long felt guilty that I really don’t enjoy reading chapter books aloud. I didn’t particularly enjoy having them read to me as a kid. I’m not overly fond of audiobooks. And I struggle to stay awake and sometimes even to follow the story when I am the one reading out loud.

The problem for me is that I’m such a fast reader. I read at least five times as fast internally as out loud so reading out loud is a battle to keep my eyes from racing ahead and my brain from trying to process at least four other things to fill the processing space it’s used to using while I read. Picture books are a different story maybe because I’m also processing the pictures – we love to share those aloud – but when it comes to chapter books, I really struggle.

Why We Like Reading Concurrently Rather Than Out Loud and What That Means

And yet, we’ve chosen to use literature-based curriculum which means we get assigned a whole lot of reading aloud together. Because I believe in learning this way, I was prepared to bite the bullet and read out loud if it killed me, and I did, until my oldest started reading well and expressing some of my very own feelings of not really wanting to listen to the book and could she please just take it to her room and read it herself in peace already? Ha, yes, she’s totally my kid!

I thought about it for a while and decided we could achieve the same benefits of reading aloud together by reading NOT aloud concurrently, meaning we read the same books and talk about them. Both my oldest and I were instantly so much happier with homeschooling once I allowed this change to take place.

I still read aloud with my second daughter until, all of a sudden, she became a proficient reader, and lo and behold, I started getting the same requests: “Can I just take this to my bed and snuggle up and enjoy it on my own, Mom?”

And so, I am still reading aloud with the younger three (mostly picture books, but a few chapter books every now and then) and reading concurrently more often than not with the older two. Every once in a while, we decide to read a chapter book all together for the experience, but the vast majority of the time, we choose to read concurrently then discuss. And I’m letting go of the guilt a little more every day.

How about you? Are you one of those families who loves to sit around the living room reading a book out loud together? Or are you like us – sitting around the living room each reading their own book silently? I used to think one was better than the other, but I think I was wrong. Family time is family time. And learning is learning. And guilt is bad. From now on, I’m embracing who we are, and I hope you will do the same in your family!

By Tina Chen

Tina is a book-loving, globe-trotting, home-schooling mom of five kids. Her greatest passions are learning with her husband how to live and love like Jesus and teaching others to do the same. She particularly enjoys teaching kids to worship and pray fervently and creatively. She loves music, cooking, and reading, and is a complete sucker for a good redemptive analogy! Tina blogs at and

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