Reading aloud isn t just for the classroom

Feb 11, 2013
Today, Julia Graeper from the Classroom and Community Group has stopped by OOM to talk about the importance of reading to children, no matter how old or young they may be. Julia, a mother of an eight-month old knows a little something about reading aloud! Kids are never too young or too old for read-alouds! And there are lots of benefits to reading aloud: it helps children improve their listening comprehension, critical thinking, and discussion skills. Reading aloud also creates a community of readers, something we’re always working toward here at Scholastic! While literacy advocates often discuss reading aloud for the early elementary years, there are real benefits to making it a habit before elementary school, as well as when children are already on their way to becoming confident, independent readers. Books and Babies Reading aloud isn’t just for the classroom! Parents play an important role in their children’s development as successful readers. And reading aloud can begin as early as parents like. I have an eight-month-old daughter, to whom I’ve been reading since she was two months old. Reading with babies strengthens the bond between parent and child; it’s a great way to spend time together. Reading aloud also helps babies become familiar with the rhythms and patterns of speech, as well as the connections between words and pictures. There are two books in particular that my daughter and I especially love to read together. I’ll explain why. Sturdy board books are perfect for babies who (like mine) take a “hands on” approach to reading. Smile! by Roberta Grobel Intrater is a wonderful board book that has expressive baby faces on every page, and simple, cheerful, rhyming text that helps babies learn about language. It’s also a short book, which is great for younger babies with short attention spans. Dinos on the Move by Anna Bardaus is– hands down – our favorite book to read together. Dinos has so much going for it: bright, fun illustrations and a quick-paced, rhyming story that gently introduces important concepts such as colors, shapes and sizes. Silly as the story is, even this short book manages to pack in several literary concepts: the scene is set, a central question is asked and answered, and there is vivid description and even suspense! Dinos on the Move allows a parent to read animatedly, and to expose a baby to exciting new words like hubbub and kazoo. “My parents used to read to me…” Did you know that even when good read-aloud habits are established early, children continue to benefit even after they are able to read on their own? Scholastic’s Kids & Family Reading Report found that a lot of parents stop reading to their children once they reach age 9. In fact, while 65% of parents read aloud to their 6-8 year-olds at least once a week, only 37% of parents of 9-11 year-olds do. But even as 9-11 year-olds become more independent as both readers and individuals, the read-aloud experience is a great opportunity to talk about books together, and to engage both enthusiastic and reluctant independent readers. It also offers a chance to explore new types of texts, new subjects and new authors. (I’m glad my dad read The Hobbit aloud to me, a book I probably would have not picked up on my own.) Good read-aloud choices can be long or short, fiction or nonfiction, poetry, anything! For this age group, Harry Potter is a great place to start, but the best read-aloud is any text that grabs a child’s attention and – most importantly – holds it. Check for more ideas! Image via USArmyAfrica