Most of the time, I eat well but when I find myself getting off-track, I seek out books and articles about nutrition. Typically, this little strategy infuses me with enough motivation and nuggets of new knowledge to help me resume good eating habits.
We all know the benefits of eating a healthy diet. Similarly, most people know the benefits of reading aloud to kids. However, just like nutrition, we need to be reminded of those benefits so we have an incentive to start or resume this essential practice. Hopefully, these reminders will do just that.
In 1985, the report, Becoming a Nation of Readers, stated “The single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” Subsequent research only reinforced this fact and revealed tons of positive effects associated with reading aloud to children of all ages. Consider these positive effects:
- Reading aloud builds vocabulary. Literature for youngsters usually includes rich vocabulary and if you add explanation and discussion about words encountered in text, the read-aloud becomes even more powerful.
- Since a child’s listening level is higher than their independent reading level, reading aloud allows kids to experience texts that they would be unable to enjoy on their own.
- Reading aloud provides a model of fluent reading. Kids learn how good reading sounds, developing awareness of pacing, phrasing, attention to punctuation and proper pronunciation.
- Reading aloud builds background knowledge. Any teacher will tell you the important role that strong background knowledge plays in the reading experience.
- Reading aloud provides opportunity for questioning, discussion, and explanations – important parts of active reading.
- Reading aloud enhances familiarity with book language and story structure. Knowing how a story is built and how it “sounds” builds confidence as youngsters progress to higher levels of independent reading.
- Reading aloud provides opportunities to model reading strategies, such as Previewing, Predicting, Chunking text and Synthesizing information.
- Reading aloud Creates a positive attitude towards reading.
- Reading aloud Sets kids up for success in school.
- Reading aloud enhances communication skills.
- Reading aloud fosters critical thinking skills.
- Reading aloud creates a bond with the reader.
As though that’s not enough, reading aloud to young children (even newborns) helps kids learn skills needed to learn to read, such as…
- Story structure (concept of a beginning, a middle and an end)
- Directionality (pointing as you read enables kids to see that we read from left to right)
- Ability to differentiate between letters and words
- Recognition of punctuation
- Basic sounds
Author Jim Trelease became famous many years ago for his book, The Read-Aloud Handbook. Delve into this text and some of Jim’s others books to learn even more about reading aloud.
The relaxing days of summer lend themselves to initiating this practice with your kids. Just like a balanced diet, reading aloud is an important component of a balanced reading life. Please voice your questions and ideas about reading aloud and I’ll be back on Wednesday with some specific tips.