Listening to others read is one of the most important ways to develop key reading skills, such as appreciating how a story is written. Listening to stories helps your child develop and improve a range of literacy skills, from reading and writing to speaking and paying attention.
As you read to your child, you are modeling significant literacy concepts. You show her that the printed word can tell stories, give information, and bring new meaning to your lives. Since she can listen to more advanced books than the ones she can read on her own, reading aloud helps expand her vocabulary and her understanding of language patterns.
Choosing Good Books
Expose your child to a wide range of readings. We learn the distinctive language of books and stories in the same way we learn any other language. In order to develop book language, children need to read and listen to a variety of materials — for example, fantasy stories, fiction, and biographies for inspiration, as well as magazines and newspapers for current events. Your child will also enjoy stories close to her own experiences. Good readers relate plots to their own lives.
Look for books with rich language, meaningful plots, compelling characters, and engaging illustrations. You might also ask yourself:
1. Is the book worthy of a reader and listener's time?
2. Does it sound good to the ear when read aloud?
3. Will it appeal to my child?
4. Will he find it relevant and engaging?
5. Will it spark conversation?
6. Will it motivate deeper topical understanding?
7. Will it inspire her to find or listen to another book on the same topic?
8. Will it inspire him to find or listen to another book written by the same author?
9. Is the story memorable?
10. Will she want to hear it read again?
Reading and Talking More Than Once
Read a book to your child several times. The first time, go straight through, pausing only to answer questions or to clarify quickly what is going on. Relate the main idea to something your child already knows, such as another book or a recent event, to provide enough background for him to comprehend the story.
1. The second and third times through, engage more actively with your child.
2. Ask open-ended and leading questions, explain the meaning of words, and talk about the events in the book.
3. Emphasize the words she needs to know to understand the narrative.
Reading aloud to your child gives you the opportunity to model the rewards of reading, as well as to help develop his interest in books and his own desire to be a reader.