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When children are very young, reading aloud becomes part and parcel of the life of parents. As children grow, and begin to read independently, it can take a backseat. However, experts are keen to encourage parents to continue to read aloud to their child throughout the school years – there is really no age cap on when reading aloud to your child should stop! In fact, some research is showing that not only does reading aloud benefit children, it also benefits the adults doing the reading. We’ve collated some of the major reasons why reading aloud matters:
It builds vocabulary
Childen can listen on a higher language level than they can read, so children who hear more words tend to have larger vocabularies. It exposes children to more sophisticated words and sentence structures than they hear in day-to-day conversation, as well as to language patterns that aren’t part of everyday speech. They hear new words, in new contexts.
It helps create connections between the spoken and written word
By being able to see the text as you read to them, it helps make the connection between what a word looks like, and what sounds like, and demonstrates the relationship between the printed word and the meaning.
It opens up conversations
Reading aloud can start conversations that can help children understand themselves, and others. They are able to see how characters in books manage situations, strong emotions and concerns that they may share with others. By exposing them to a wide range of stories, ones in which they see themselves as well as other people, culture and communities, helps children find and make connections to their own life experiences.
It encourages a positive attitude to reading
Every time a parent reads to their child, it helps build the association between books and pleasure. It provides children with model of confident and engaged readers. There is enormous pleasure to be had in snuggling up with a children and reading a book with them, whether it is discovering a new one, or returning to a favourite. It is an enriching activity that can inspire a lifelong love of words.
Its good for you too!
A growing body of research that the ‘ancient art’ of reading aloud benefits the readers too – including improving our memories! It can help unpack complicated, difficult texts, by slowing it down, saying it and hearing it.
What about those teens and tweens?
Older children also need to develop their listening skills and reading aloud provides an opportunity to connect with books they may not normally have tried. It can also include short stories, poetry, magazine articles or newspaper columns.
Here are links to a few articles on this very important topic: