Reading Aloud to Children
Reading aloud to your children is not only important, but such a special experience. It’s a quiet time to step out of the hustle and bustle of life and a chance to step into a make-believe fantasy land that you can explore with your children together. It’s a chance to take a step back in history and feel how someone else may have lived before us. A chance to learn about someone’s life or to “visit” a place far away that you may never go. There are so many benefits to reading to your children, but the time you spend together is invaluable. Some of the key benefits to reading aloud with your children (including all styles of books: picture books, chapter books, early readers, poems, etc.):
- Vocabulary Building
- Helps to grow and build your child’s imagination
- Picture study and art appreciation
- Letter and sound recognition and reading fluency
- Story structure and narration
- Memory building
- Emotional and developmental growth
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
Reading Helps Build Vocabulary
Reading to children is, in my opinion, the best way to help broaden your child’s vocabulary. I have been reading to my children from the beginning and I can honestly say that my kids use more colorful language and a wider variety of words when we are reading more. They also pick up on the meaning of words faster when used in storytelling and reading because they are given examples of how to use words, and in what context to use them, broadening their vocabulary. What’s amazing about this is that they don’t even realize they are learning! (Bonus!)
Reading Helps Build Imagination
While reading to your child/ren you are helping to build their imagination. Supporting their gift of imagery, is something that all children need, and desire. Spend time reading board books and picture books with children of all ages. Read the pages and then allow time for the child to explore the pictures on the pages and talk about them. The more details you touch on with your child the more their imagination and exploration grows. Moving slowly through books with pictures gives your child the opportunity to see different styles and expressions of art. It’s always exciting to point to different colors, letters, shapes, animals, and so much more to help open and broaden what they are seeing and exploring.
Reading Helps Children Appreciate Art
There are so many books with great artwork and setting a foundation for art appreciation early on will give your child a great perspective to so many things in life now, and in the future. I personally like to get big books full of artwork for my children to be able to just grab off the shelf to explore and soak in the beautiful works of art, devouring the images on their own to express later in their own works of art. It’s also a great way to have deeper conversations with your kids and build a trusting relationship!
Reading Helps Children Improve Reading and Language Skills
Reading to your kids, especially when they are babies through school ages (newborn to 16), is so beneficial for their reading skills, reading confidence, letter and sound recognition, it also helps them hear different cadences while reading. I personally like to get board books, which are the hard covered children’s books, like “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, and all of Erik Carle books to read repeatedly with my children. They not only love these books, but they are able to read them from memory, which is helping them determine letter names and sounds, and grow reading fluency. Encouraging your child to read stories that they memorized helps them gain confidence in reading which also helps build fluency.
Reading Helps Children Improve Critical Thinking Skills
One of my favorite things my daughter enjoys doing after reading a book she really liked is writing her own stories! This is something I didn’t really think about as a mom until she started doing it, and she has picked up on story structure and has learned through reading aloud how stories are outlined and different ways to write in plots. It has been such a treat to be able to see her working hard on her stories, helping her spell out words, draw her own pictures, and then read the story together. I cannot wait to see how this grows with her over the years.
Reading to Your Child Helps Build Healthy Relationships
Connection with your children helps them in endless ways. When you are choosing to grab a book, or having your child pick a book to go snuggle up on the couch with, or even to read to them while eating breakfast or before bed, you are choosing your children. You are making them your number one priority and are showing them how important they are to you. It is a form of unconditional love, that should be valued and cherished. Sometimes it’s easy to just want to get reading time “over with” and trust me we are all human and sometimes we have hard, exhausting days filled with endless to-dos, but when you slow down and make reading aloud to your child a priority to be enjoyed together, it fills your soul and lightens your stress. This is time to connect one-on-one with your children. This is a special time to quiet the world around you and spend time together in the best possible way. This helps your child emotionally and mentally. They know that they get to escape with the person they love most to enjoy some of their favorite stories. Something that is important to remember is to slow down and listen to them as they talk about the story, or artwork, and ask questions, and sometimes make up their own endings. This is vital because this is the key to having your children trust you and feel safe and confident in talking to you about whatever is on their mind and in their hearts. Reading together builds such a special bond that cannot be broken as you are pursing your children with love, care, and a story.
Ways to make reading more enjoyable:
+ Set up a reading nook:
Find a little place in your house to make cozy, with a basket of books, that is inviting and comfortable for you and your children to escape to for reading time.
+ Prepare a snack:
Make a pot of tea and set the table up for “teatime” with tea, honey, lemons, little simple sandwiches or cookies on a tablecloth to make the reading time a magical experience. This always draws my children in and keeps them around to listen while I am reading aloud.
+ Only pick books you enjoy reading aloud:
Some books are just not interesting to me, and I can feel myself wanting to skip through pages or just quit the story. When this happens the best advice, I have read from Sarah Mackenzie author of “The read aloud family” is if you do not enjoy it, but your kids do, find it on an audio version for them to listen to on their own time, and find something you enjoy for your special read aloud time.
Stephanie Lapinksi is a mother of five from a small town in Wisconsin. She is a homeschooler with a background is in early childhood education and wellness.