Reading Aloud to Your Kids Has No Age Limit

Did you know that Wednesday, February 5, is World Read Aloud Day? The chilly, short days of winter are the perfect time to reconnect with your children by snuggling up with a good book.

It might seem silly to read a book to a tiny baby who can’t even hold a book, but when we read to our littlest ones, we are setting them on a path of literacy that lasts a lifetime. They begin to associate reading with feeling good, and they learn so much from the sounds and rhythms of your voice.  Preschool children who are read to regularly have larger vocabularies and are generally ahead of their peers throughout their school years.

When our children master reading on their own, we are elated. We are so proud of their independence and happy that they can take more responsibility for their own schoolwork. However, we quickly realize that we miss the bonding time spent reading through a stack of colorful picture books with them. But we don’t have to stop reading aloud once our children can read on their own. In fact, we should never stop! Older readers who still have to work hard at reading on their own can benefit greatly from being read to by a parent or anyone who reads more fluently than they do. They can get caught up in a story without having to struggle with unfamiliar words and learn vocabulary that is above their reading level, while learning that reading is fun, and not just work.

Experts tell us that the benefits of reading aloud to children of all ages are far-reaching, and that it is the most important thing caregivers can do to boost a child’s educational success. This article from PBS discusses how reading helps children thrive, not just academically, but socially and emotionally as well.

But it’s not just experts who know how important it is to read aloud. In 1982, journalist/artist Jim Trelease wrote a book called The Read Aloud Handbook. Trelease read daily to his own children, and then as a volunteer in elementary schools. He noticed the stark differences in achievement between children who were read to regularly and those who were not, and he wanted to explore that insight. His book was not written by experts for experts; it was written by a parent for other parents. All these years later, it is still a wonderful guide to reading aloud and has been updated many times. Trelease’s book has changed the way we teach children, and helped educators and parents understand the connections reading aloud creates. Here is a link to his website, which has plenty of free information on the subject.

Remember that your children’s librarians are happy to help find the perfect books to engage your family. Just ask! Take some time out of your busy lives to celebrate World Read Aloud Day with your family. You may just decide that every day will be Family Read Aloud Day from now on.