Nowadays we seem to think reading aloud is reserved just for bedtime stories and little kids. But honestly, reading aloud benefits everyone and we do it a lot more than you may think. Even with adults, whether it's repeating instructions back to understand them better, reading out a funny email to the office to laugh and share the experience together or even just reading a list out loud to yourself to remember it better. We’re aware of the benefits without even realising it.
With children it helps them learn more about the world and helps us understand their own little worlds. Children are well known for their wild and imaginative questions and when reading stories with them, we can learn so much about them and how they think. This understanding gives a chance to connect and strengthen our connections and bonds. 80% of children enjoy being read aloud to and 90% of parents that do it say it's a special bonding time for all.
Reading aloud also helps everyone’s language skills. I’m sure we’ve all come across a word we have only read and never heard, only to realise we were pronouncing it completely wrong. Hyperbole, segue, posthumous (or my personal favourite – Persephone). Kids who are read aloud to for 20 minutes a day are exposed to 2 million words a year!
You can use reading aloud to help engage children in stories they would love but may not have to ability to read for themselves yet. It can give children personal goals to reach but also doesn’t exclude them if they aren’t as strong at reading as their friends, and reading aloud regularly can really help foster a lifelong love of books and reading.
Even with older kids, who silently read by themselves, there are still opportunities for parents to share special moments, introduce new ideas and have conversations about more mature topics and concepts.
It also helps the memory of both the person reading aloud and the person being read to. I remember a lot more about the books my teacher read aloud to our class in primary school compared to the ones I read alone. It was fun, we got the chance to talk about them together, why we liked one character more than another and what we thought was going to happen next.
And the most important reason why reading aloud is amazing is that it makes reading accessible for everyone and makes reading a shared experience.
“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.”
- Roald Dahl