Editing While Reading Aloud

by | Children's Books, Reading Aloud | 6 comments

I am just getting started homeschooling, and have found your book and website to be a tremendous help. My oldest is five and learning to read using TATRAS, and my husband and I are so pleased with her progress. We definitely appreciate your recommendation of that program. In fact, my husband is a first grade teacher, and he wants to learn more of the methods used in it so that he can help his students become better readers. I also really appreciate how your book continually points back to the Bible, and not just intelligence or knowledge. I knew right away when researching homeschool approaches that I wanted to use a classical style, and I feel like I have a great road map to help me navigate through something that is new to our whole family. Thank you for sharing your experience!

I do have a question with reading aloud to the children. Mine are young, ages 5, 3, and 9 months, so the books so far that I have chosen are in the juvenile section of the library. We have read through the Little House series, and my children especially enjoy Milne’s Pooh books. I recently read Wind in the Willows, but was a little surprised by the rough name calling, and frequent use of the word “ass.” I realize that the book was written over 100 years ago, and so the usage at that time might have been appropriate, and so when I would come to it, I would just skip it, as well as some of the insulting name calling. I also wasn’t sure how to best approach the chapter in which Mole and Rat come to the island where the young otter was, and found their demigod there. The animals worshiped, and the book we had, had a picture of a half man, half goat. I didn’t feel comfortable reading the chapter, and was pretty sure my husband would not have approved reading it to our little ones, and so I skipped most of it.

I am curious to know how you handled similar situations when your children were very young, or what you feel is appropriate when reading to such young children, and running into questionable words, names, or situations. Your input would be greatly appreciated! Thank you again for your work. It has been a great blessing to us, and will continue to be for many years.

Kristen, Ohio

I would handle it exactly as you have. If it is questionable in your mind, then skip it. I did it often.


  1. Stacy

    So what did you do when your children were older and reading on their own. Some of the books that are great read-alouds have passages that I’m not comfortable with. I feel very reluctant to hand my children a classic book to read, because there may be objectionable sections. Do you think that I should keep the fiction/literature as read-alouds until my children are older? My oldest two, 8 and 11, are voracious readers, so it’s very hard to keep them in good books! (A good problem to have, I know! 🙂

    Any suggestions for me?

    • LaurieBluedorn

      I suggest finding a good reading list — one compiled by someone you trust. Also, ask around for suggestions from your friends who have young children. You might find that your very young children will need to re-read books you know to be safe until you are able to approve of new ones.

  2. Shannon

    It might be a good idea to make note of what needs to be discussed in a book, such as this one, and with older children (or when your children get older) take them to the places you skipped/or will skip over and explain why you did/will.

    I like sometimes to give my children a heads-up as to what I disagree with about what I am going to read, or if it is short read it — and immediately follow with what I think would have been better, essentially starting a short discussion about choices of action or words.

    When we share our opinions with our children, they will grow thereby, to know that it is “common” to have opinions about literature, and to respect the undaunted courage you show in reading the book to them — even though it isn’t perfect.

    A questionable passage can launch a platform for comments as to what the Bible (which we know is true) says about that, or that the Bible is the only perfect book.

    Reading aloud to our children is powerful and even the parts of books we would skip or need to discuss can be used in mentoring our children in Christ. There should be a strong belief that the book will be used for good in some way, and then it is also our job to make sure that it is used for good.

    I agree that the best tact to take in such cases, is indeed — to inoculate them from the world from the inside out, by bringing every thought or reading passage, captive to Christ. We only have so much time with our children and we should make sure that time counts as much as possible.

  3. Hélène Gómez

    It’s funny you use that word innoculate. I don’t like innoculations for disease prevention either. Our immune system should be enough, along with other health practices. I know that’s highly off topic and I’m not trying to discuss it but just thought it was interesting of your word choice. It reaffirmed for me, no questionable things till they’re older and “immune” to exposure because of the Word of God hidden in their hearts through church attendance, Bible readings/discussions, scripture memory, godly living modelled in their parents and family friends etc…probably in the Dialectic stage, like 10 or 12. Then the discussions can start about WHY it’s wrong and what should have happened acc to the Bible. Grammar stage is more WHAT and Dialectic stage is WHY.

  4. Stacy

    Shannon, this is very helpful. I really like your idea of making notes about objectionable places so that I can discuss them with my children in the future before they would read on their own.

  5. Stacy

    I agree, Laurie. I think it’s much better for my 8 year old to re-read a book I know is okay than to let her read something I’m not sure of. Thanks so much!


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