Raising a reader has always been an important parenting goal of mine. Bedtime stories are a ritual in our house. Since Amelia was a baby, my husband or I would read to her at bedtime. Amelia would have all of her favorite books lined up in the order that she wanted us to read them. Each night, we’d snuggle up and read. Sometimes it was the same book night after night; other nights, it was something new. But every night, the ritual continued and stories were told.
Amelia tells me that reading books together is her favorite thing to do with me. As a mom and book lover myself, hearing that from my daughter has me jumping for joy! I adore being read to, and probably always will. I’ve always found it relaxing and a great way to focus on a story. Reading to others allows the reader to immerse themselves in the story and share experiences with those around them. Amelia and I both love our time reading together. We often take turns reading aloud now that she is an independent reader, which is a nice break for me!
Why should we read aloud to our children? We constantly hear that reading aloud is one of the most important things that you can do for your children. Why is it so important and what exactly do children gain from it? At what age should you start reading aloud to your child and when should you stop? Do you still read aloud to them once they can read on their own? With our busy lives, work schedules, and countless children’s activities and homework, reading aloud is often put on the back burner.
Reading aloud gives everyone, young or old, a chance to stop what they’re doing and be a part of something. It gives small children, who are learning to read, an insight into books. Hearing the pronunciation of words and different voices throughout the story will open new avenues for this budding reader. The youngest of readers take cues from those that are reading aloud and form their opinion of books and learning early on. They will look forward to story time and hearing what new adventures will be had today.
Struggling readers will also benefit greatly from being read to by you. This will help unlock some of the difficulties that they may have with reading and comprehension. Struggling readers often find that being read to provides a safe place for them to enjoy books without being judged on their reading skills. This gives the reader a break from the “work” of reading to just sit back and enjoy the wonder of books. This helps children that struggle with reading to open up and begin to view reading as a pleasurable activity instead of a chore. Reluctant readers will come to view reading as a “job” and “work” if they do not find the joy in reading. Reading aloud takes the pressure off young readers that are experiencing difficulty.
Reading aloud to children also provides an insight into worlds that a child may not be exposed to otherwise. Being aware of different cultures, situations, and histories will broaden children’s perspectives and expand their sense of empathy and understanding. Children are able to travel to faraway countries and experience other lifestyles through books. Listening to a parent or an educator express feelings of the character, whether it is joy, sadness, anger, or surprise, will guide children to think of others and ask questions.
Providing children with a creative outlet is also an advantage of reading aloud. Hearing the words of a story will allow the tale to come alive for the child, opening a world of imagination. Words become electrified and animated when you are reading aloud to children. Children love to feel as if they are a part of the book. Encourage your children to imagine being a character in the story. Ask them what they would do if they were a character in that situation and how they would react. This will ignite their creative thought, and their love of reading not to mention create conversations as a family.
Reading aloud together gives families a chance to create moments and spend real time with each other. The majority of our days are spent staring at screens, we all know this. I’m guilty of it and so is my husband. Gathering as a family to listen to a story will no doubt have a huge impact on a child and you. Bonding through a book can allow a parent to be a part of their child’s life. As your readers grow older and independent, possibly not letting you into their lives as much as before, having that time together to discuss books will provide a connection that might be difficult to achieve otherwise.
Now that Amelia is 9 and can read on her own, reading together before bed doesn’t necessarily happen every night anymore. She often has books that she’s anxious to read on her own! She doesn’t like when I interrupt her when she’s about to finish an awesome book(who does?)! But the time we’ve spent reading stories aloud together was absolutely time well spent. It is still our time, and something that cannot be replaced. It definitely takes an effort to make time to read aloud, but an effort that has paid off and is evident in my daughter’s love of literacy. And having a child that can’t wait to jump into bed to crack open a good book is what I consider a parenting win!