Reading aloud is an honored tradition. Reading together is such a special and intimate activity that we get to do with our children. But with so many things competing for a family’s attention these days it is easy to put it on the back burner.
Despite my best efforts, I’ve noticed that I tend to wax and wane with the amount of time we spend reading aloud together. When I find myself in one of these read-aloud slumps, I find it so helpful to review why it’s so important. I’m a WHY person and often if I just review my why, I’m quick to re-engage. Am I alone in this???
There are so many benefits to reading aloud. One of the best gifts we can give our children is shared experiences with books! The benefits are numerous and profound. Let me share a few with you.
Reading aloud, EVERY.SINGLE.DAY, is so important because it:
1. Promotes Relational Intimacy
- There is something so special and intimate about curling up with your child/children to read a good book. When tempers are short and we are on edge with one another, I frequently turn to reading aloud. It is amazing how it calms everyone down and gets us to a place where we can address what is going on in our hearts.
2. Feeds the Imagination
- The imagination is a powerful tool in the learning process. Reading aloud feeds and nurtures this as everyone is transported from the couch into the story at hand.
3. Cultivates an Interest in Books
- There is something magical about sharing the joy of reading by communicating pleasure in the story. This goes a long way in growing an interest in books.
4. Develops a Taste for a Variety of Good Literature
- As parents, we have a powerful opportunity to shape their taste for good books and a variety of different KINDS of books. This can be key, especially as children get older when introducing them to literature that might not be something they are naturally drawn towards.
5. Increases Attention Spans
- Drawing them into the story helps to focus their attention for increasing lengths of time. This not only helps with reading, but with many other areas of their lives. This can be especially important for those really active children. I’ve found that busy hands make for focused minds. As such, I’ll often give my boys paper to doodle on, play dough or pipe cleaners/wiki sticks.
5. Builds Phonemic Awareness
- Reading builds phonemic awareness and an understanding of the general cadence of our language. Phonemic awareness is simply being aware of how sounds combine to make words. This is such an important precursor and ongoing strengthener of reading skills. Reading to our children introduces them to words and draws them into listening how they are put together.
- An early childhood longitudinal study found that children who were read to at least three times a week had a significantly greater phonemic awareness. Imagine the effect when we read to our children daily!
6. Builds Vocabulary
- Reading aloud is one of the most powerful ways to build our children’s vocabulary. The size of a child’s vocabulary when they start formal academics is the single greatest predictor of school success or failure. The words they know before this point determine how much of what is taught will be understood.
- Once they begin reading, personal vocabulary either feeds or frustrates comprehension. And that leg-up in vocabulary will keep them at an advantage as material grows increasingly more complicated.
- Even as kids get older, research has revealed an increase in vocabulary acquisition by 15-40%. So it is important to KEEP reading to our children, even after they can read on their own.
I’m just getting started… I’ll continue on with some tips on ‘how’ to help your children enjoy the read-aloud times more, talk about the importance of different types of books and anything else that comes up!
Reminders and a Why… I definitely need them.