I challenge everyone to make reading out loud a part of your everyday life. I know many parents love doing this with their young children, but there are many reasons to continue reading aloud with older children or without children. Reading out loud can be a fun activity for all ages and in many situations.
Reading Aloud with Young Children
- Increases attention span
Reading a book together takes time and focused attention. Young children and less experienced readers may need plenty of practice and patience, but will soon learn to sit still and pay attention for longer and longer stories over time. This ability to pay attention to the spoken and written word is so important for all learners as they grow.
- Builds vocabulary
The more words we are exposed to, the more words we learn. Reading aloud can also make you slow down and notice new words more. If you need to stop and look something up when your listener asks a question, that’s great-you’re learning! The reader and listener can also learn correct pronunciations together.
- Increases brain power
According to this article from PBS, brain scans have shown that children who are read to have a stronger “part of the brain associated with visual imagery, story comprehension and word meaning.” Amazing!
According to Mem Fox when people are in the same space sharing a great story, “There’s a fondness that develops that’s just gorgeous.” Fox is an author who discussed the benefits of reading aloud with the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
- Shows that reading is important
Young people are constantly watching adults in their life and imitating them. This is why having books in the home and modeling reading is important. When the adults in a child’s life take the time to read with them, that child knows that reading is a priority. P.S. Sign your little one’s up for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library so they will have plenty of books in their home!
Reading Aloud for Older Children and Adults
- Improves memory
A study published in the Journal Memory found that “reading words aloud made them easier to remember compared to reading them silently.” You might want to use this tip when studying or trying to remember the things on your to do list. For more information on improving memory read this article from Fast Forward: Scientific Learning.
- Read past their comfort zone
According to Jim Trelease, author of the Read-Aloud Handbook, a child’s reading level isn’t on par with his listening level until the eighth grade. Trelease said, “You can and should be reading seventh grade books to fifth grade kids. They’ll get excited about the plot and this will be a motivation to keep reading. A fifth grader can enjoy a more complicated plot than she can read herself, and reading aloud is really going to hook her.”
- Facilitate important conversations
Getting your child to talk to you about sex, struggling to keep up in school, bullying or other sensitive topics can cause an instant shutdown. However, if you read a book on that topic together, talking about the characters in the book can lead to deep conversations in a less threatening way.
- Strengthen relationships and empathy
As Trelease said, “Books allow you to develop awareness of people outside your experience and develop a sense of empathy. When I was growing up, I wasn’t rich, but by reading books I learned that there are kids out there who are a lot worse off than me.”
Reading Aloud Tips
- Read the pictures – When reading books with lots of illustrations, take the time to look at the pictures and explore what they are telling you about the story.
- Take your time – Reading time is a time to slow down, relax and explore.
- Talk about what you’re reading – As you discuss things like why the characters made the choices they did you are building comprehension skills. You’ll also have a great conversation together!
- Look for opportunities to expand learning – New words and new concepts may come up in your reading – take the time to learn more about them. If you can’t look it up right then, make a note to explore that word or topic together later.