Reading out loud to children of all ages is very important. It is so helpful in their literacy development and also in their mastery of language. Studies have shown that children that don’t have people reading aloud to them struggle in school and later in life in several areas. We know that to become successful you have to be literate in our society, so it is incumbent upon us to do a better job of helping children at these beginning stages and throughout their development.
Reading out loud to children can expand their vocabularies, foster more vivid imaginations, and help them learn pronunciation skills. Some sentences or sections of books or even whole books may get skipped over if a child is only reading to himself. When the text is beyond the child’s level of literacy, they are much more likely to choose something else to read. So therefore, when children are read to, they are being exposed to literature that they may not be able to evince any interest in.
It can be also good for kids to hear books that are above their own reading levels. They are exposed to sentence structure, words, and concepts that they would not normally encounter on their own. Their brains are being fed and nurtured and they do not even realize it. They are just enjoying the experience of having someone read to them. Not only are you spending some very quality time with the child, but you are building on their literacy development and speaking skills. The experience of the read-aloud time can be a great bonding time between a mother and a child, an older sibling and a younger sibling, or a teacher and her students. They are coming together over a book they both enjoy and sharing a pleasant time together.
When we turn reading into a pleasurable experience like this is so unbelievably good for children, in terms of motivating them to read and to love and enjoy books. So often books turn into ‘just a part of school’ for children, they turn into ‘work’, and many children get really turned off from books because they view reading as a chore and just naturally rebel. Doing all that we can, as their caregivers, to show them how wonderful an experience reading is will do tremendous good in keeping them excited about reading.
At a certain point during children’s school years, parents and teachers stop reading out loud to kids. Often this happens when the child goes to middle school. Experts suggest that we continue to read to children of all ages. It is a wonderful bonding time we can spend with children and it is still very good for them, even if we – or they – feel they are too old for it. The biggest thing you will be doing is to keep them interested in reading for pleasure. Just like when they were first learning to read and there was that danger of their equating reading with work, the very same thing happens in the teen years. This is true for many teens. There are some who will still read for pleasure, but, they are becoming rare.
Helping our children develop these life-critical skills begins with conversations and a commitment to read aloud every day. And that commitment doesn’t end when they begin school and learn to read. It is imperative that we encourage older children to continue to read. As parents, we must stay attuned to the things that interest them and work hard to help them find reading material that match those interests. We must guide our children to become lifelong readers and lifelong learners. And we can do that at home, with some fun family bonding time. And in so doing, we will also be strengthening our families.