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Never Too Old: The Joy – and Benefits – of Reading Aloud With Older Kids

November 13, 2015

stack of kids novels for wordpressDo you read aloud with your kids, now they’re capable of reading on their own?

The other day, the Better Reading team got talking about how much some of us love being read to, even as adults: just lying on the couch and listening to a wonderful, transporting story. One couple we know drove around Australia, reading aloud to each other along the way!

And that led to a discussion about the pleasures of reading aloud to kids, even as they grow older.

We recently came across an article in which Susan Close, South Australia’s Minister for Education and Child Development, talked about reading with her older kids (article behind paywall). And we know of a bookseller who used to regularly read to her daughter throughout her high school years.

Lots of older kids really enjoy being read to! Scholastic Inc’s ‘Kids and Family Reading Report’ survey confirmed that many children as old as eleven still don’t want their parents to stop reading aloud to them, even though they have the ability to read by themselves. 60% of the kids surveyed who were aged 9-11 were no longer being read to at home. But 34% of those kids actually wanted the reading aloud to continue.

Why did they like being read to? Popular reasons given by kids included that it’s fun and it’s relaxing before going to sleep. But the number one reason was because it’s a special time with their parents!

Reading to older kids can also benefit them emotionally and academically.

For starters, it’s a way to model the pleasure and importance of reading.

open Harry book for wordpressReading aloud is also an opportunity to share more complex stories with kids, inviting them to engage with a wider range of ideas. Jim Trelease, a journalist and the author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, argues that ‘a child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until about the eighth grade’.

And for readers who are still developing their skills and for whom reading seems like hard work, you can show them ‘the good stuff – the really great books – are coming down the road, if they stick with it.’ (Source.)

In an article on readbrightly.com , Melissa Taylor suggests that reading aloud can also be a great way to get kids hooked on a new author or series or stretch them to try genres they otherwise wouldn’t: ‘There are so many amazing books that kids don’t pick to read on their own. These books make great read alouds — in what I call the “just give this book a chance” category.’

Taylor notes some of the functional benefits, too, including expanding your child’s vocabulary and modeling fluent reading: ‘When you read to kids, you’re modeling how to read language. You pause at commas and periods. Your voice inflection changes when you read questions or exclamations. And you can show what you, a fluent reader, do when you come to a word you don’t know. (Even if you’re faking that you don’t know it.)’

What will you and your kids be reading this week? Please tell us in comments below. And if you like this story, please consider sharing it using the social buttons.

For more on reading aloud:

Our article on what happens to kids’ brains when they listen to a story, how picture books can develop vocabulary, and the Number 1 reason kids enjoy being read to

Our article on why it’s important that dads are involved in reading aloud

Our article on why reading that same favourite book at bedtime is doing your toddler good

Our article about how bedtime reading can set up lifetime habits to deal with stress and how older kids love being read to

Our article on truly great reading aloud and storytelling


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