Earlier this week I posted this link on my Gingerbread Alien facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152199230859456&set=a.80700289455.76838.6009749455&type=1&relevant_count=1
I thought it was rather apt after my post last week on the importance of kids reading themselves everyday. In that post I briefly touched on parents sharing the reading experience with their children by reading to them.. However, it brought me to thinking about the signifcance of reading aloud to kids of all ages and perhaps the need to explore this topic a little further.
By now most parents know the benefits of reading aloud to their young ones, but how many parents continue to read to their children once the child has become an independent reader?
Here are my thoughts and I hope perhaps awesome reasons to read to your child from birth to the teenage years and everthing in between.
1. Reassurance of love and security. Babies feel safe and loved when they are cuddled and read to, so why wouldn't your 6-10 year old need the same assurance? A tween or teenager may not need quite the closeness of cuddles while being read aloud to, however the sheer closeness will be appreciated. Kids of all ages still need a hug once in awhile from mum or dad and reading aloud to them allows for that opportunity without embarrassment.
2. Reading aloud introduces the building blocks for vocabulary. All language has to be learnt. We don't come into the world already understanding the world around us. We listen to our parents and significant others. The more we read aloud to our children the more their vocabulary is gradually increased. A school age child who has been read to from birth has a greater understanding of the world around them and has the ability to learn more easily as their vocabulary is richer and greater than a child who has not been read to. However we should not stop there. As children become independent readers they can still learn so much more from being read to. A child with a reading level of 8 years can comprehend a story read to them at an 11 year old level, they even yearn to hear stories written for older kids and they gain a greater use of vocabulary while listening.
3. The written word has a more formal structure to it than the spoken word, so the higher level of reading that is exposed to the child the higher level of language exposre also. This in turn will help improve their own reading and writing.
4. Help childern to explore and investigate the world around them. Particulary as children grow their curiosity and imaginations develop. Their reading level may not keep up with their intrigue. As parents we have the opportunity to foster learning and increase understanding by reading aloud information books and magazines that may be beyond their capabilities. Even reaching the teen years they may still need our help reading new words and concepts they have not come across before. As the school curriculum increasingly gets busier and busier, sometimes children and teenagers need to search elsewhere for the information they need to fulfill an interest. Their reading level may not be quite up to the information they find, a parent can help by reading aloud and explaining.
5. Reading aloud means sharing, with that can bring ideas for great discussions or debates. Many a great debate has started around our dinner table after reading books together. You can discuss moral issues, feelings, how your kids might respond in a similar situation while they are young or as they become older they may prefer to tackle the more complex topics like climate change or how to prevent child poverty. The list becomes endless depending on attidudes, interests and beliefs in your family.
6. Increae attention span. You may start off reading aloud with picture books that may only take a few minutes but as they grow, kids will demand chapter books. Hopefully ones with fantastic hooks at the end of each chapter so that you can't put them down. Eager listeners beg you to "read just one more chapter!" Their attention span increases not only in the listening to the story but continues to overflow into sustaining other activities as well.
7. Introduce a variety of genres. When reading aloud to your 6 year old or your teenager, the more often you read to them the more opportunities you have to introducing them to genres that they may not have considered themselves. Sometimes kids find one genre that they believe they enjoy and tend to stick with that one. If you read something different aloud with them they may jsut discover a new genre that is not so bad after all.
8. Life long love of reading. If you continue to read to your children from birth right through to their teenage years (and even beyond) then you will instill in them a habbit that they won't be able to resist. Reading will become part of their daily routine, they'll want to read or be read to. Children by nature have inquisitive minds, they'll seek the next chapter or piece of information. The urge to learn and be fulfilled will be never ending.
9. Reading aloud provides parents with the opportunity to become awesome role models. As teachers we read aloud to our class everyday from the minute they start kindergarten. We still continue to read aloud to the class everyday right through their primary school years to the end of Year 6 as it not only helps with everything mentioned in the eight items above, but provides our class with a reading role model. We read with enthusiasm and expression that teaches them to read the same way. A parent has the same opportunity when reading at home to their child. We can all show them how much we enjoy the book we are sharing by the inclusive way in which we read with them.
10.. Reading aloud should be fun and entertaining. One of the most important points of all if we are going to hook our children into becoming awesome readers is to show them that above all else reading is for fun and enjoyment. Make sure when you take the time to read to your child that you both have fun. :)
For some of my favourite suggested books for reading to 5-12 year olds please revisit my post from Raising Awesome Readers titled "I am a Self-Confessed Bookaholic" dated Tuesday 21st May 2013. The link is below.