Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Beauty of Reading Aloud

by Virginia Knowles
from Common Sense Excellence

Reading aloud is a child’s first introduction to good literature. Why is this so important?

Reading aloud connects parent and child. It links you together in a personal way around interesting ideas and words. Young ones are soothed by the sound of our voices. I tend to be so much more calm when I am snuggled up on the couch enjoying a great book with them, rather than chasing them around the house trying to keep them out of mischief. Reading aloud builds warm memories, too! What will they fondly remember looking back to their childhoods -- pages upon pages of worksheets or the great stories they read with Mom?

Reading aloud gives your child a splendid vocabulary. Good literature is rich in descriptive vocabulary. Your child can gain an impressive arsenal of new words to use in speaking and writing. A child can encounter a word in print, and even know what it means, but not know how to pronounce it. Is the word charade pronounced CHAIR-ray-dee or shuh-RAID? If he hears you say it while he is looking at it, he can make the connection and hopefully remember it the next time.

Reading aloud to a child prepares him for learning to read. Study after study has shown that being read to often as a young child is one of the crucial factors for success in learning to read and in performing well in the rest of academics! The more words a child has in his spoken vocabulary, the easier it is for him to decode them when he sees them in print. He also knows how sentences flow, so he can figure out new words from the context of the sentence.

Reading aloud allows you to teach your child information about the world. This is especially important in the early years. Easy phonics books are fine for “learning to read” but many children aren’t fluent enough to comprehend core curriculum content (literature, history, geography, science) until they are eight or nine. How will they get maximum exposure to these subjects without being driven to frustration? Reading aloud is the key.

Reading aloud gives your child the benefit of your wisdom and knowledge. Even a child who can technically read the words may not fully understand the concepts in a book. He doesn’t have the storehouse of background information and insight which you possess. When you read aloud, you can explain things as you go along, and check to see if your child comprehends the ideas. I even do this with my middle school students for history.

Reading aloud keeps you intimately involved in your child’s education. You know what they are reading because you are reading it with them. You have a common experience that you can talk about later. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the story that we can’t set it down. I’ve been known to read aloud over 100 pages in one sitting on more than on occasion! Yes, I was hoarse when we finished, but these are “moments with momentum.”

Reading aloud sets an example of serving others. Use the power of imitation! What they see us do, they will do. As I’ve gotten busier with our family of 12, my children have found ways to help fill some of my gaps. I love to see my preschoolers and even our young neighbors lined up on the couch with one of my daughters reading aloud to them! It’s a great way to get in some extra reading practice, too! It boosts their confidence to know that they are making someone else happy at the same time. This is such a practical way to use reading aloud as a service to a busy Mommy and eager tots.

I implore you to continue reading aloud to your children all through the preschool and elementary years (and beyond)!

This is an excerpt from my book Common Sense Excellence: Faith-Filled Home Education for Preschool to 5th Grade.

1 comment:

  1. My husband still reads aloud to our two middleschoolers! They really enjoy it! Great family time!


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