Read Aloud To Your Children
Why you need to read chapter books and novels to your children.
Of course, you are going to read aloud to your children.
Picture books and storybooks abound. You get children’s books as baby gifts and more books for birthdays. There are so many to choose from and each child has their favorites. My oldest son memorized Dr. Seuss’s ABC and Drummer Hoff we read them to him so many times. My younger son loved Where the Wild Things Are and How a Crayon Is Made (Just for fun I bought him a hardback edition for Christmas when he was in high school).
But when I talk about reading aloud to your children, I mean moving beyond their reading level and really challenging their language development. As their attention span lengthens, develop the habit of reading more difficult, longer books to them.
I am talking about reading chapter books and novels to your children.
This is a no strings attached, read some every day no matter what, parent reading aloud to child habit. This read-aloud time should be part of a routine that is not affected by a lack of time, rewards or punishments. It happens daily. Treat it like food and drink that nourishes the body. You will be nourishing the mind and more.
For my boys, this started when the oldest was 5 and the youngest 2. They shared a room, so I read a picture book to the youngest and then delved into a world besides our own with the oldest, James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. My youngest doesn’t remember those first chapter books, but this created the best of both book worlds for the boys.
We continued our daily routine for the next 11 years. My oldest was in high school and my youngest in middle school when we discontinued the practice. Yes, I read aloud to them way past the age that they could read to themselves. At first, I tried to read books I was familiar with, but I eventually jumped right into a new book with them. I recently asked them both what books they remember most. My oldest responded with Little Men by Louisa May Alcott (that surprised me) and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, one of my personal favorites. My youngest responded with Harry Potter, we both became Harry Potter fans and read them together.
So why should you start reading chapter books that are too difficult for your child to read to themselves?
Notice I said the books are too difficult for them to read, not too difficult to understand. Here are some of the benefits I saw when I read aloud to my children:
- They quickly developed language skills and increased their vocabulary.
- They exercised their listening skills.
- Their imaginations were stretched and their imaginative play increased.
- They learned to think outside of the box and come up with their own ways to solve problems.
- They were introduced to adventures and cultures beyond their small word (something much needed today).
- They developed a love of reading and became lifelong readers.
But I wasn’t just growing minds and a love of reading.
The added benefits of our read-aloud habit included the time to bond and create shared memories. And most important, our read-aloud habit introduced opportunities to talk about difficult, but important topics.
My boys still talk about our read-aloud habit. Just last month my oldest son asked when he should start reading chapter books to his 3-year-old daughter.
The last year I read to my youngest, my older son was in the next room working on the computer. I’m not sure what I was reading, perhaps the last book in Tolkien’s Trilogy, or one of Terry Brooks’ Shannara books. When I mispronounce a word, my older son corrected me from the next room. He was still listening. My heart smiled. I felt I had done something right raising my sons.
Go ahead, grab a chapter book and start a read-aloud habit today. There are so many books to choose from that it’s hard to go wrong. Your heart will smile too.