Holly Shannon, M.A.T., Elementary School Teacher

Yes! Read Aloud to Your Child

Just in case you needed another reason to read aloud to your children, take it from me, a teacher…YES! It is very important! Not only does reading aloud offer you and your child a special bonding time, but there are so many more benefits.  

When you read aloud to your child, you should read text just above his/her comprehension level.  As you read new vocabulary, stop and discuss what the new words mean.  Your child’s vocabulary understanding will grow as you read and discuss words in the context of the story. For example, while reading aloud to my first grade class, we came across the following sentence: “Ralph craved adventure,” (The Mouse and the Motorcycle).  We stopped to talk about the word ‘crave’ then the children acted it out and demonstrated their understanding by saying things that they crave.  

Vocabulary development and comprehension aren’t the only reasons for reading aloud to your children.  As you read, your child is hearing your voice inflections, sentence fluency, pronunciation and patterns of books.  When you change your voice to match the punctuation, you set an excellent example of fluency for your child.  Point out the quotation marks and let your child know that a character is talking, and that’s why you changed your voice.  Also, help your child notice ending punctuation and demonstrate how your voice sounds with each period, question mark or exclamation point. You child will hear how frequent words are pronounced and will also hear how sentences stop and start.   

Younger children will start to recognize how to hold a book, the direction of print, and what a letter, word and sentence look like.  With your help, they, too, will expand their vocabulary, learn about things they haven’t had the opportunity to experience, and enjoy comparing books to their lives or other books they have read.  Often when younger children are reading with a parent, they will interrupt with questions, or to tell a story they are reminded of.  Your first reflex might be to ask them to listen quietly, but this is a perfect teaching opportunity.  Answer their questions, and when they tell a story, listen, then link it back to the book and continue reading.   

Children of all ages benefit from listening to a fluent reader and discussing a book with that reader.  Whether your book of choice (or your child’s) is Hop on Pop, The Velveteen Rabbit, or my favorite read aloud, Charlotte’s Web, take heart in that your bonding time is also a learning time!  


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