Reading to your children can benefit those from infancy through middle school. Young children delight in being cuddled and hearing the calming voices of their parents. Even when they don’t understand the words they will associate reading with attention, love and pretty pictures. As they grow they will learn that books are read from front to back, that the pictures stand for real objects, and that the print on the pages stands for words.
So much of the intelligence children will ultimately have is developed before they even get to kindergarten. When you read to them you are building pathways in their brains needed for successful reading experiences. They will be developing auditory perception that allows them to think about how words sound. Reading is also a great way to improve your child’s vocabulary. When we speak we tend to use verbal shorthand but in books there are complete sentences and the language is more complicated and more sophisticated.
Reading aloud increases a child’s attention span and is a great advertisement for reading. When you read aloud, you’re whetting a child’s appetite for reading. A child who has been read to will want to learn to read himself.
What about older children? They already know how to read. Why read to them? The answer is that though a child may be reading at a certain grade level, he can listen to books he is unable to read himself. A child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until eighth grade. Read a more complicated book and they will get hooked on the plot and this will be motivation for them to continue to read.
Reading aloud to your kids is also a great way to grapple with difficult issues. If you read a book about a kid who gets in trouble by hanging out with the wrong crowd, your child is going to experience that directly, and she’s going to experience it with you at her side, and you can talk about it together. Instead of a lecture that usually goes in one ear and out the other, you can look at the situation with her and find out what went right and what went wrong.
Here are some guidelines for making your reading time enjoyable:
- It is important to remember that not all books make good read alouds. Even if a book is an award-winner, it may not be perfect for a read-aloud.
- Read books with expression, providing different voices for the various characters.
- When preparing to read-aloud, it is important to remember that you can skip “boring” parts of the book to make it more interesting to the audience.
- Before you begin to read, always say the name of the book, the author, and the illustrator – no matter how many times you have read the book to the children.
- Occasionally read above children’s intellectual levels and challenge their minds.
- Remember that reading aloud comes naturally to very few people. To do it successfully and with ease you must practice.
- The most common mistake in reading aloud is reading too fast.
- Don’t read stories that you don’t enjoy yourself. Your dislike will show in the reading, and that defeats your purpose of modeling and promoting good reading behaviors.
Click here for a list of books that are recommended for reading aloud. They are grouped by age and grade. Enjoy!
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