“Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.”
― Marilyn Jager Adams
In a time where there are SO many distractions and forms of digital entertainment for our children it’s so easy to drop the beautiful habit of reading aloud. Whether you have babes in arms, preschoolers, homeschoolers or children in full-time school; reading aloud is a gift we give our children, a chance to snuggle up with them and a perfect opportunity to slow down and immerse ourselves in a child’s literary world.
Some of the happiest memories of my childhood were when my beautiful mother would gather myself and my siblings on her bed and she would either read a book or make up an adventure story! The bed would become a flying carpet or a ship at sea; we’d be lost on a desert island or taking flight over sights and scenery that she would describe and that I can still ‘picture’ today.
“To receive many blessings, read to your children from the womb to the tomb.”
― Joyce Herzog
So here are 5 reasons (or reminders) why we should read aloud to our children:
- Improves Their Long Term Reading Success
Decades of research shows that reading aloud to a child daily is one of the most important activities for their reading success. That goes for older children, too. Studies show that children who are read-to are more likely to have good vocabularies, write well, and do well overall in school . They’re also more likely to keep reading on their own
2. Helps Expand Their Vocabulary
Your child’s auditory understanding is higher than their reading comprehension. When you pick a difficult book that your kids can’t read on their own, you are exposing them to a treasure chest of new vocabulary words. This stretches a child’s language development, particularly if you stop to talk about the meaning of these harder words.
I encourage my children to write down ‘hard words’ on a piece of paper whilst they are reading, and look them up later; a little habit I picked up from my Dad. Obviously if they can’t understand the story due to said hard word I help them out!
3. Increases Their Imagination And Creativity
When our children have travelled to the country fayre with Wilbur and Charlotte and ‘tasted’ Templeton’s treats, when they’ve ‘smelt’ the Shire and lost themselves in Middle-earth; when you’ve gasped together and cried (that would be me) whilst reading about the life of Bruno and Shmuel the books do their own work in our listeners hearts and imaginations. I finished reading ‘Charlotte’s Web’ to my youngest children over a week ago and they are still playing and crafting games around the characters they’ve fallen in love with!
4. It’s Time Spent Together.
Reading time is time when you’re focusing on no one else and nothing else but them. It’s impossible to read to your son or daughter and look at your smart phone or watch TV at the same time! It’s a prime opportunity to slow down, sit down, snuggle up and breath in a book with your children – now, who doesn’t want to do that?!
5. It Builds Life Skills
It builds listening skills, increases a child’s attention span, and develops the ability to concentrate at length of which all are learned skills.
So where should I Start?
- Pick a perfect 15 minute slot every day and create a habit
- Pull yourself a book list together; there are some helpful ideas here
- Ask your children what they would like to read
- Just DO IT! It doesn’t matter if you’re not the best reader or eloquent speaker; you’re creating a bond, amazing memories and instilling life skills into your children!
We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves – Neil Gaiman
Want to hear more? Tomorrow morning on my radio show ‘Live With Leah’ I’m interviewing primary school teacher and English subject leader Jenny Jenkins. We’re going to be chatting about the joy of books, reading aloud to our children and how we can encourage this in family life amidst the digital distractions we’re bombarded with!
Check out the show live at 8am (GMT), listen locally on 101.5fm or stream from Radioplus.org.uk.
Connect with us during the show via our Facebook page – tell us where you’re listening from and ask questions to add to our live conversation!
And finally, check out this book for more inspiration: