Okay, your little one has outgrown the cute picture books and no longer brings you that well-worn book night after night. He or she has moved past the easy readers and started reading chapter books themselves.
Why bother reading out loud to them any more? Shouldn't we encourage them to be independent readers?
Yes, we do want to increase their reading independence. But one of the best ways to do this is to continue reading outloud
to your older children daily
Improve Reading Skills
One of the benefits of reading aloud is that your childrens' reading skills will actually increase faster if they continue to have a literate adult read to them.
A literate adult reads more fluently than their schoolmates who pause and struggle as they figure out words. That is not the best model of reading, though it is necessary for a classroom teacher to work with groups of children and give them each a chance to read.
You can counter act the poor model by reading to them. While they are listening to the dialogue, the adventure, the mystery - without knowing it they are also hearing a fluent reader model
Increase Reading Pleasure
Good stories are a source of pleasure to people of all ages. That pleasure should not be withdrawn once a child has started reading easy chapter books.
Your local library and bookstore is filled with stories of great adventures that children love. While I heartily agree that your child should be reading independently every day, it is of inestimable value for them to be read to.
After all, learning to read is hard work. Work they need to do, but work nonetheless.
But the joy of sitting back and just listening to a wonderful tale! This is one of the best benefits of reading aloud to kids. They can continue to enjoy great books.
It allows our children all the pleasure, simultaneously keeping the love of books alive during the time they are doing the hard work of learning to read independently.
Enhances Vocabulary and Grammar
Hearing us read exposes children to words and sentences that are not part of their reading vocabulary. This is particularly true of the great classic literature.
We are all familiar with the concept of "dumbing down." Some deny it, but if you read the stories written in the 1800's for children you realize that their vocabulary does not fit any of our reading level, interest level, vocabulary charts.
Schools and bookstores use charts to tell us what book our student is ready for. However, what they really are ready for is a good story - a great story.
As you read the classic tales, they will hear and grasp a vocabulary that is beyond the modern readers and daily conversation. They don't have to study the words and memorize them; they simply hear them in context.
In the same way, grammar and sentence structure is also more advanced in the classic literature. They don't have to study it; they simply get to listen to it.
Reading Classic Books Gives Them More Advanced Literature
Treasure Island is a favorite of many boys, though the reading level is fairly advanced. There are many stories like that. As mentioned earlier, the classic stories written for children are now at a reading level beyond many of them.
One of the benefits of reading aloud is they often chose to re-read it on their own. Your oral reading enabled them to handle a book they might not have dared to read for several more years.
So Many Books - So Little Time
In many families, every one has a book they are currently reading. Each book is read until the person is done, and then another started.
Family reading time doubles the number of books read. At a minimum, the kids have the book they are reading independently and the book the family is reading together.
More reading = more learning.
Reading Together Sets an Example
It's a simple fact: if there are no books in the house children don't grow up and read books.
Yes, they learned to read in school, they read enough to get by. But they seldom become avid readers or life-long learners.
The opposite is also true. In homes where adults read, the children read also. It's a natural part of family life. They don't even think about it.
Reading together is part of the simple, family structure that creates strong students. Whether it is a bedtime routine or an after-dinner treat, reading out loud demonstrates that reading is important and learning is part of life.
Reading as a family develops positive sibling dynamics
Sadly, we're all familiar with sibling squawking. (Sibling rivalry is the psychological term usually employed - but it sure sounds more like squawking to me.)
So, stop the arguing and start the reading. Not only is this a family activity that all kids can enjoy - while temporarily halting hostilities; it can also change dynamics after
your reading session.
I was listening to my children discuss the ethics of Julius Caesar's assassination on the Ides of March. Listening to them debate the motivations of that deed is preferable to listening to an argument over video games or matchbox cars.
One of my favorite benefits of reading aloud is hearing the kids discuss ideas, historical events, and social concepts they were exposed to in our reading time. Not likely to happen if they simply sat in front of the TV all day.
While we are raising our children, we often do not make decisions based on what their final childhood memories will be. But by itself, this is one of the greatest benefits of reading aloud to your children. They will remember you took the time every day to read to them.
It is an activity that they look forward to. It costs nothing. It gives a lot.
A Budget Stretcher
Have you ever noticed raising kids can be a little expensive? When kids want to "do something" there's a pretty good chance it might take a little out of your budget.
Reading is definitely a budget stretecher. Even if you buy all your books for full-price, you still come out a head. What other activity can you come up with that costs less than $10, all your kids can do together, and will continue every night for at least a week?
Better yet, you don't even have to spend the $10.00. Your local librarian can keep you stocked with the best books for years to come.
The education of the elite for the cost of a library card
This sums it up quite well. Most of us struggle with the fact that the hours in the day and the money in the bank seem to disappear quickly, but the demands of the kids are still there. Sound familiar?
However, twenty minutes a day on the couch reading the greatest literature of all time is within everyone's reach.
Of course, no child is going to tell their friends they would rather stay home and listen to their mother read a story than go to an over-priced amusement park. Sorry, won't happen. There's no competition, right?
Wrong. In the end, there will be far more benefits of reading aloud together than they will ever get from a day at an amusement park.
The books will win. The benefits of reading aloud with your children will last for decades. No amusement ride can top that.