As a teacher of second graders, I feel the need to convince some parents of the importance of reading aloud to their children. Parents often want to know why reading aloud is still so important when their child can now read and choose his/her own books. After a full schedule at school and work, soccer practice, piano lessons, and ballet, parents want to know what they can give up. Despite the findings that correlate reading aloud with future school success, reading aloud is often the first thing to go.
At my Open House in the fall, I strongly encourage parents to read aloud each day and to do so as long as their child will allow it. Here's what I tell them:
- Reading aloud gives you a chance to share and create an experience with your child that shows how fun reading can be. Share the laughter, suspense, and tears together. Make memories and build a list of favorite books your child will always remember. Encourage curiosity and leave your child wanting more!
- There are so many wonderful, content-rich stories beyond your child's independent reading level. Reading aloud can build your child's vocabulary and background knowledge, improve listening skills, and provide an introduction to comprehension strategies that will help him or her make meaning of stories. Make predictions, stop to talk about characters and story elements, compare one story to another you've read before. Introduce your child to new genres and authors.
- Be a reading role-model. Give your child an opportunity to hear fluent and expressive reading.
For over 20 years, Jim Trelease has provided parents and teachers with invaluable information and recommendations in his book, The Read-Aloud Handbook (sixth edition released this summer). Here are some other great tips for reading aloud: