I have a confession to make, I’m not much of a fiction reader. Never have been and probably never will be. That being said, I do love to read fiction (especially historical fiction) aloud to my kids. It’s harder now, with all but Esther being teens and adults but we still do family read-alouds occasionally.
One of the great things about having a seven year gap between our two youngest children is that I now have an excuse to read all our favorite chapter books aloud to our children. Now, the teenagers aren’t required to listen but I often find them hanging out in the livingroom while I’m reading to Esther.
I’ve read through the Little House series twice with our older children (since they are in an eight year range) and plan to read them with Esther within the next year. When we read through them we do many of the activities and try to cook some of the food mentioned – a unit study of sorts. We also enjoy watching the TV series and seeing where the TV series and the book align and where they don’t. That’s always a fun thing to do when there is a movie made from a book.
I think sometimes we get so caught up in teaching our children how to read that we think that if they can read it by themselves, they should. Even if they have to struggle through. It builds “character” after all.
I think we’re missing out on something really great.
Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Child
It’s fun. Need I say more? It’s just plain fun to lay around the livingroom together or snuggle on the couch each day and read. I know when you have lots of little ones, it’s harder. I would always let my kids work on drawing, finger crotcheting, making a latch hook rug or other quiet craft while I read aloud.
You can read above their reading level. For most people, comprehension level and reading ability aren’t the same until about 8th grade. This means that you can, and probably should, be reading 5th grade level books to 3rd graders. Just because they can’t read it doesn’t mean they can’t comprehend it.
It gives your family something to reminisce about. I’ve found that my kids have really fond memories of our read aloud time. It’s fun hearing them talk about the books and the experience as they’ve gotten older. But, I’ve also found that we have conversations about books we’ve read off and on once finishing the book. It’s a shared experience and those get fewer as our children get older.
It helps with auditory processing. We live in a very visual culture and we’re losing our ability to process information without visual clues. Now, I get that some people are more visual (I happen to be one of them), some people are more auditory and some are more kinetic in their learning styles. But that doesn’t mean that just because someone is weak in one area we just don’t use it. If you’re child struggles with auditory processing, one of the best things you can do is read aloud to him for just a few minutes each day, lengthening the time as he is able.
It increases their vocabulary, sentence structure and pronunciation abilities. If a child is only reading (or hearing) vocabulary and sentence structure that is on their reading level they are missing out. I’ve seen my children begin to use words and sentence structure that came from books we’ve read aloud and they explore their language at a higher level. They would not have gotten this from only reading on their level.
It helps the struggling reader. All of my children (except Esther) have struggled to learn to read. Some only struggled a little bit but one of my sons didn’t learn to read until the 5th grade. Yep, in 5th grade he was reading on a 2nd grade level. If we had not done read alouds he would have missed out on so many wonderful books during those years. I know the focus in our society it to get every child reading by the end of Kindergarten or at least the first grade and if they are not, they are put in special classes to get extra help to learn to read. It’s a shame. If that time were spent reading aloud (while still doing the technical work of learning to read), once the child is reading on level he would have all the benefits of reading for years. Instead the struggling child misses out on the fun and benefits of reading and believes he can’t read. Now, before you write me off as a wacko, let me say that all my children read just fine now, in fact, my three oldest sons have all passed their college entrance exams at 16 and have taken Freshman English in 11th or 12th grade….even the one who didn’t learn to read until 5th grade. I’m not trying to diminish real learning disabilities but sometimes children just need time – not pressure.
What are some of your favorite read alouds?