Reading Aloud: It’s Not Just For Youngsters Anymore
At this time of year when family traditions play such a big role, I am proposing that you reinstate one tradition you may believe your family and students have outgrown: read aloud time. I am 60 years old and I still love to have someone read to me! I am blessed with a niece who is an excellent reader – she puts so much emotion into her reading I feel like I am watching a play in my head as she reads. But besides the pleasure that reading aloud can give to both the reader and the listener, there are many educational benefits to this enjoyable activity.
Reading aloud to children has been the subject of many studies. Repeatedly the results show that the simple act of reading to children reaps huge benefits.
- It increases vocabulary, especially since vocabulary in books is usually more sophisticated than conversational vocabulary.
- Reading aloud to children increases their success in learning to read on their own – which is the key to being successful in school and in life.
- Children who are read to at a young age are better prepared when they enter school.
Other Benefits Include:
- Helping children use their imagination.
- Honing critical thinking skills.
- Giving children a role model for reading.
- Exposing children to a wider variety of genres.
- Creating opportunities for parent/child and teacher/student discussions.
And finally: Reading aloud helps children develop positive associations with books and reading.
- It is the nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud that encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading.
- Reading aloud to children is a proven coping method during times of stress or tragedy.
Don’t just take my word on it. Here is a great resources: Why Read Aloud
I also recommend watching the video of Rebecca Bellingham’s TEDx Talk about why we should read aloud. Ms. Bellingham is a Literacy Specialist faculty member at Columbia University Teachers College.
During the winter break, when you have more time to spend with your family, it is the perfect time to start (or continue) the practice of family read aloud time. Whether you read to your children, your children read to you, your children read to each other, or you get the extended family to participate, pick up some good reads and share them out loud. And, as you are thinking about your plans for your classroom in the New Year, hunt for some great books you can read aloud to your students.
Happy holidays and happy reading!