All parents hope to inspire a love of reading for their children. Providing them with a personal book collection, taking them to the public library, and encouraging older children to read independently are all fantastic for their love of reading and for their reading skills. However, the benefits of reading aloud with your children, whether reading out loud to them or having them read out loud to you, have numerous benefits that other methods of reading don’t.
For younger children who are newer readers or have only just begun to read, reading aloud to your child:
Develops stronger vocabulary. Reading aloud fills gaps in a child’s vocabulary by introducing them to novel words since books are often richer in complex vocabulary and words that children don’t often hear in their everyday life.
Increases attention span. Children who are read to often from a young age are less likely to experience behavioral issues relating to hyperactivity, short attention span, and difficulty focusing.
Strengthens cognition. When you read to your children often throughout their childhood, they are more likely to have higher academic achievement, better memory, higher concentration skills, and more powerful imagination. They’re also more likely to absorb content knowledge from their reading and have stronger fine motor skills.
Promotes bonding. One of the best benefits of reading aloud with your child is the profound emotional bond that it can help form with your young child. Reading aloud with your child creates an emotional closeness and provides a calm, quiet time to spend together enjoying each other’s company.
Improves listening and reading skills. It’s no secret that children can often struggle with being able to listen carefully for an extended period of time. An incredible benefit of reading aloud with your children is that it stretches their “listening muscles” and gives them an opportunity to practice prolonged, focused listening.
Provides enjoyment. The last thing that any parent wants is for their child to view reading as a chore. Making special time to read aloud together makes reading feel exciting and special, making reading an enjoyable experience and fostering a lifelong love of reading.
For older children who are stronger readers, having your child read aloud to you:
Builds connections between the spoken and written word. For many children, their written and spoken language skills develop separately, and connecting the two skill sets is a challenge. Reading aloud helps connect these two skills and build an inter-relationship across all linguistic skills.
Helping children understand what they read. For emerging readers, it can take so much focus to read the words they see on the page that they don’t absorb much of the content. Reading aloud rather than reading silently allows children to improve their reading comprehension and their insight into the text.
Challenges your use of intonation and expression. While skills like vocabulary and comprehension are an important part of language, the sound, and expression of the spoken word is just as critical as a means of communication. When your children read aloud with you, they have a chance to practice using tone, inflection, and expression to provide communication cues as part of their storytelling.
Provides a safe way of exploring strong emotions. Children can more easily identify with characters in stories, and having the chance to explore and discuss those emotions when they aren’t in a heightened emotional state is a great way to strengthen emotional resilience and maturity.
Sharpens focus. For children who may struggle to maintain focus throughout the entirety of a reading passage, reading aloud can make a big difference in allowing them to focus for an extended period of time on the words in front of them.
Gives you an opportunity to play. Having a child creates an interactive reading experience, creating a fun and educational chance to play and have fun with one another! There can be no better benefit to reading aloud with your children than simply spending quality playtime together.
While the benefits of reading aloud extend across genres and reading levels, choosing quality books is the best way to maximize the benefits children reap. Choosing books that are at or above a child’s reading level helps maintain their challenge and allows them to continue to grow. However, perhaps the most important part of choosing books is to make sure that the child is interested and engaged in the book they are reading. Allow children to choose their own books at the bookstore or library, and let them pick which books to read before bedtime.