Feature Article: Reading Aloud!

By Troy Rockwood 4/10/09

“Children are never too young to have stories read to them,” says Nancy Verhoek-Miller, a specialist in early childhood education at Mississippi State University. The benefits of reading aloud are so profound, and kids form so much of their intelligence potential during the early years of their life, that experts recommend reading aloud to your child as soon as he or she is born, and continuing indefinitely.

In the Rockwood home, we have read aloud together off and on for our entire adult life. The resulting feelings of togetherness are nearly tangible. Reading together has been one of the fondest memories I have of time with my mother is of her trying to read through her tears the last part of Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls or reciting together one of the passages in One Fish Two Fish by Dr. Seuss. The following is a compilation from several sources about the benefits of reading to children with my own two cents added here and there.

  1. Reading aloud is fun.
  2. Reading aloud builds a lifelong interest in reading. “Getting kids actively involved in the process of reading, and having them interact with adults, is key to a lifelong interest in reading,” said BeAnn Younker, principal at Battle Ground Middle School in Indiana.
  3. Children whose parents read to them tend to become better readers and perform better in school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
  4. Reading to kids helps them with speech development.
  5. It expands kids’ vocabulary and teaches children how to pronounce new words. The more adults read aloud to children, the larger their vocabularies are and the more they will know about the world and their place in it.
  6. Reading to toddlers prepares them for school, during which they will need to listen to what is being said to them (similar to what they do while being read to).
  7. Reading to older kids helps them understand grammar and correct sentence structure. Reading aloud introduces the language of books, which differs from language heard in daily conversations, on television, and in movies. Book language is more descriptive and uses more formal grammatical structures.
  8. Kids and parents can use reading time as bonding time. It’s an excellent opportunity for one-on-one communication, and it gives kids the attention they crave.
  9. Being read to builds children’s attention spans and helps them hone their listening skills.
  10. Curiosity, creativity and imagination are all developed while being read to. Reading aloud lets children use their imaginations to explore people, places, times, and events beyond their own experiences.
  11. Being read to helps kids learn how to express themselves clearly and confidently.
  12. Kids learn appropriate behavior when they’re read to, and are exposed to new situations, making them more prepared when they encounter these situations in real life.
  13. When read to, children are able to experience the rhythm and melody of language even before they can understand the spoken or printed word.
  14. Reading aloud can introduce books and types of literature—poetry, short stories, biographies—children might not discover on their own.

I have compiled a list of books that we have enjoyed together as a family. Our family has enjoyed reading aloud all of these books (and will likely repeat several of them).

Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald
Witches by Roald Dahl
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Heidi by Johanna Spry
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Latham
Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
Gentle Ben by Walt Morey
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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