Reading aloud to kids has many benefits
Reading is the foundation of academics and academic success.
A child’s vocabulary upon entering school is a major predictor for school success or failure. A child attends school to learn new words, but the words the child already knows determines how much of what the teacher says will be understood. Most of the instruction the first four years of school is oral. Hence, the child with the largest vocabulary understands the most, and the child with the smallest vocabulary grasps the least. Building a child’s vocabulary is as easy as communicating with them and reading aloud to them. There are certain types of books that coincide with their developmental age.
Getting books into the hands of infants is important. If a child is exposed to books early and often, familiarity and curiosity is developed. Reading aloud to infants provides a rhythmic sound of your reading voice that, in time, is associated with a peaceful and secure time of day. The more children are talked to during their early years, the greater their natural language growth. Books recommended for infants are books that will stimulate their sight and hearing. Jim Trelease’s book, “The Read Aloud Handbook,” states that “one of the reasons for Mother Goose’s success is that the first sound a child falls in love with is the rhythmic, rhyming beat-beat-beat of their mother’s heart.”
A toddler is naturally curious about their surroundings. Books targeted for this age group introduce them to the world. Picture books are the perfect teaching vehicle at this stage of development. When reading to a toddler, point to various pictures on the page and call them by name. Ask the child to repeat you and praise any responses. When traveling in a car, walking around the house or when outdoors, point to objects and signs and say their names, too. Remember, you are introducing your child to their world and the goal is to build their vocabulary.
As a child grows and develops, their attention spans need to grow as well. Reading aloud helps develop attention spans and memory. When your child continues to ask you to read the same books over and over, this is proof that their brains are working at trying to memorize the story. The confidence they gain from this experience can help them successfully sail into reading. In fact, one of the primary benefits to reading aloud to children is to motivate them to read independently for pleasure. When parents or caregivers work cooperatively with teachers, our children will benefit.
Most schools have sustained silent reading programs. Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) is time set aside once per day for children to choose a book, magazine or newspaper and read it for pleasure. This time is uninterrupted, no questions asked, no assessments or reports, just reading for pleasure. Most elementary schools also require teachers in each grade to aloud to their students on a daily basis. Schools have found that SSR programs and reading aloud increases student’s reading scores.
Parents can help their children by introducing books early and often. They can visit public libraries together and choose to read for pleasure as a family. Reading aloud does not have to end once a child starts school. The Read Aloud Handbook has a treasury of recommended read-aloud books for parents of children through the ninth grade. Try reading aloud together as a family instead of watching television for a week and see what happens. Children are copycats. If they see parents reading for pleasure, they will want to do the same!