Do you want your children to love learning, to love reading, to love books and be able to express themselves well? Of course, you do. Do you need credentials or special training to make this happen? Absolutely not. You need only your voice, your child, and books. Read to them. Read to them every day and often. Read aloud over and over and over. It is that simple.
Reading aloud is a gift that keeps on giving. It is a child’s ticket to language development—speaking, reading, and writing. From birth, a child’s language begins developing. The more multisensory exercise the brain gets, the more it will develop. Right from the start talking, singing, rhyming, playing, reading, and cuddling provides this stimulation. Reading aloud provides precious focused attention for a child and the parent. It is therapeutic downtime full of uplifting benefits!
Reading aloud builds a critical bond with the parent through the sharing of sounds, letters, words, stories, questions, answers, emotions, problems, and solutions. Long before children can read independently, their grammar, language conventions, phrases, and expressions develop because of exposure to the language of the stories and the reader. Talking about the illustrations and stories- the words, ideas, and values shared- lays the foundation for speaking skills. This is where children pick up whimsical, colloquial and historic expressions. From interaction with books and their parents, children learn about the world around them, learn to solve problems and to express themselves.
Beyond books and stories, words abound. Look around you. Have a conversation about labels, cards, advertising, signs, license plates, mail, food containers, and recipes. Remember though, a fruitful exchange is not one-sided. There must be given and take even if a parent helps the child by suggesting words, or helping the child point or clap, even laughing together counts! It is the exchange that builds language and instills a readiness to read.
Reading aloud is an expressive language experience. Voices, like music, have rhythm and a beat. There are pitch and volume changes, inflections and drama! Children naturally model the rhythm of the words read over and over by the parent. Be sure to read aloud with energy and expression. Have fun with it!
There is repetition in stories and a lot of it! Repetition is immensely valuable. It builds comfort and reassurance about language. It exposes children to many facets of reading—various print styles, letters, text, words, punctuation, the concept of whole stories (beginnings, middles, endings), patterns, word games, questions, and answers. Repetition allows children to feel so comfortable and familiar with a story, they’ll join in recalling words or whole lines long before they can truly read. Books become reliable friends shared over and over. There is no such thing as a book read too many times! Repetition builds a child’s confidence, reassurance, and positive reaction to stories, setting the stage for wanting to read the words.
Many adults fondly recall being read to among their happiest times. Isn’t it wonderful that so much good language learning can occur during such a blissful event? There is no age limit for reading aloud. The benefits are never-ending. Read aloud as long as you can; as long as children will allow it. Older children will often enjoy being read stories, poems or books they might not choose to read on their own. Another gift! Even adults enjoy hearing a story or book read aloud.
Children, having been read to regularly, will have been given a map for reading. Print begins to make sense because of the rhythm, rhyme, and repetition of reading aloud. Parents add to their children’s wealth of experiences every time they read a story or book aloud. Children gain knowledge from both the story and its language but also from the very valuable exchange of ideas with the parent.
Every read aloud moment is an effortless teaching opportunity, so go grab a book!