I recently came across an article from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) about reading aloud to children of all ages that I felt was important to share.
Why is reading aloud to our children so important? I think the opening statement of this article lays out the importance of reading aloud to children in one sentence. It says, “The single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” Motivation becomes noticeable when children are read aloud to. When you show your children that reading is enjoyable, they will become more motivated and enthusiastic about reading as well. This goes for all aspects of learning for all ages. If you are showing interest and enthusiasm, children are going to do the same.
Another aspect of reading aloud that is so important to learning is that of background knowledge. The beginning of any lesson should begin with finding out what your children already know about the topic. Background knowledge correlates with reading aloud because children are able to use what they know and make sense of what they are seeing, hearing, and reading. Their vocabulary is expanding with books, especially due to the fact that the language in books differs from your typical language used in daily conversations. Books are much more descriptive and use more formal grammar.
I think one of the best, most important components of reading aloud to your children is it encourages their imagination to run wild. In one of our 3-5 year old classrooms at Children’s Campus, we have what the children call our “Friday book” that we read to them every week. It has popular folktales in it, but almost no pictures. With that, the children are forced to use their imagination in order to interpret the story.
The best part about reading aloud is that it can be done by anyone, anywhere, anytime. We naturally think of parents reading to their children, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc could be included in the mix as well. Do you have older children at home? This would be a wonderful opportunity for them to work on their reading skills, while helping their younger siblings and forming a special relationship with them as well. I see parents come into the classroom quite often and I love when they stick around to read a book to the children. I think it is important for the children because it is showing them that their parents think reading is interesting and enjoyable.
Discuss. Discuss. Discuss. I cannot stress that enough. The article describes, “It is the talk that surrounds the storybook reading that gives it power, helping children to bridge what is in the story and their own lives.” This can be done before, during, or after reading. Involve your child while reading. Get their opinions, predictions, thoughts, and reflections. You might be surprised at how they relate stories to their own experiences.
Be on the lookout in the upcoming days when I break down the importance and provide tips and strategies for infants through primary-aged children.
Stay tuned for more,