By Sarita Holzmann
You’re probably sold on the idea of reading aloud to young children. What mom doesn’t cherish the thought of a preschooler climbing into her lap, ready for a snuggle and a story?
But most parents in our culture stop reading to their kids once they can read for themselves. Parents assume children don’t need or want them to read aloud anymore. But this is far from true.
Reasons to Read Aloud
We intentionally build read-aloud time into our school day all the way through middle school. We do that for several strategic purposes. I could list more, but here are three powerful reasons why parents should keep reading to their kids even after they can read on their own.
Children want their parents to read to them
Scholastic just released a fascinating survey on children’s reading habits. Can you guess one of their surprise findings? Many children wish their parents had kept reading to them out loud after they were school age. As for the children who don’t wish this, I suspect they just don’t know what they’re missing.
Unfortunately, the survey also found that most parents stop reading to their children by age six. But kids seem to love the special time and shared experiences of reading together. Even if your kids don’t want to snuggle like they used to during a read aloud, know that they probably really enjoy that special time with you.
The Reading Gap
The mechanics of reading can be tricky. I think it’s analogous to handwriting. You know that a child who is just learning to form her letters can create a much more complicated story when she’s talking to you than she could if she sat down to write it. It’s similar with reading. Research shows that until eighth grade or so, kids can comprehend a much higher level of writing when it’s read out loud to them than they can when they read on their own.
So reading out loud to your children all these years helps them access ideas, vocabulary and concepts that would otherwise be out of their reach. Just because they couldn’t tackle a book on their own doesn’t mean it’s not perfect for them if you read it out loud.
Reading together builds relationship
Reading together is such a precious time to spend with your children. It’s a break from a potentially hectic day. You get to slow down and immerse yourselves in a story together. When you share a book, you and your children will go on remarkable adventures together–through history and throughout the world. Those shared experiences foster deep conversations about life. They provide opportunities for your children to ask you questions about things they wonder about, such as love, loss, careers, family, and what it means to follow God.
Many families even say that inside jokes from books they’ve shared together now permeate their family culture. It’s like their entire family has this treasure trove of shared adventures together that they can reference and enjoy. What fun!
So please spread the word–our school-age kids want us to read to them. We do our kids a great academic service when we do read to them out loud, and it fosters deeper relationships with our children.
What’s not to love about that?