Reading out loud to children of all ages is very important. It is so helpful in their development as readers and also in their mastery of language. Studies have shown that children that don’t have people reading aloud to them struggle in school, or just don’t do as well in school.
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 aloud to, they are being exposed to literature that they normally would pass over.
It can be 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.
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 in that way. When reading is a chore, they simply do not want to do it. 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 rare.
So if we read to them or have a family reading time and let everyone take turns reading, we help them continue to associate books with pleasure. And goodness knows that is needed, given some of the drab books we have all had to read in high school.
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.