Do you read aloud with your kids now they’re capable of reading on their own?
The Better Reading team all agree, we 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.
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. In a world that seems to run at a faster pace every year, it’s the one time to slow down and be present for each other.
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.
Reading 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’. 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.’
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, so reading aloud becomes an opportunity for them to “take a chance” on an unknown author or genre, without feeling like they’ve failed if they don’t like it.
Some of the functional benefits include 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.)’
Here’s a short list of suggestions for reading aloud to different age groups:
- The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling. Written as a story to be read each night at bedtime for her own children. It’s a sophisticated fairy tale, suitable for reading aloud to children 8+
- Brain Freeze by Oliver Phommavanh. A short story collection: 12 deliciously wacky stories that will make you laugh out loud. Perfect to read aloud to children 8+
- The Grandest Bookshop in the World by Amelia Mellor. Page-turning suspense, as two children try to save the bookshop by solving a series of riddles. Each riddle creates a cliff-hanger so listeners will be begging you for another chapter. A richly imaginative tale for reading aloud to children 10+
- Tashi: The Book of Magical Mysteries by Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg and Kim Gamble. 8 fabulous Tashi adventures in one book! Suitable for reading aloud to children 5+
- Bear In Space by Deb Abela. Exploring space, friendship, and the magic of being uniquely yourself. Beautiful illustrations and very cute characters. Certain to be appreciated when read aloud to children 4+