Is reading aloud and joint reading only for young children? No! Many parents have the misconception that once your child can read independently, it’s time to stop reading aloud. This cannot be further from the truth. I found an interesting article by Connie Matthiessen discussing the benefits of reading aloud written by Jim Trelease, the author of The Reading Aloud Handbook. According to Jim Trelease, there are many benefits to reading to an older child including middle and high school students. The article explains these benefits further in this article. I wanted to summarize the most important points written by Jim Trelease in these points below:
- Learning more complex vocabulary. Since books are full of rich language, books can be an excellent way for children to hear and learn new vocabulary words. As Connie explains in her article, “In conversation, we tend to use verbal shorthand, not full sentences. But the language in books is very rich, and in books there are complete sentences. In books, newspapers, and magazines, the language is more complicated, more sophisticated. A child who hears more sophisticated words has a giant advantage over a child who hasn’t heard those words.”
- Increase attention span. With the increased distraction of electronics, busy schedules and endless tasks, finding the time to read aloud can be challenging. Being able to sit and listen to a book can help increase a child’s attention span. This can a time that your child needs to just sit and listen without any other distractions.
- Improve auditory comprehension. Since the reading level of your child does not catch up until about eighth grade according to educator Jim Trelease, it is important to work on auditory comprehension as a skill for your child. This can help in class, during conversation or academic activities occurring inside and outside the classroom.
- Discuss difficult topics that you may not be able to explain during conversation. These sensitive topics can include bullying, peer relationships, puberty, etc. The appropriate book can explain a specific topic in an ideal way. This can help kick-start an engaging conversation about that particular topic. For example, when reading the book, Frenemy Jane, My Sometimes Friend, my daughter and I had good discussions about the qualities that she would want in a friend. The book, Wonder can be another excellent read aloud book about bullying and feeling different.
- Bond and spend time with your child. From my own perspective, reading aloud can be a bonding experience because books are stories that can shared and discussed. Also, reading with your child forces you to focus only on the book and not to be distracted by other things such as electronics, homework, etc.
When can I fit reading aloud into my hectic schedule?
Everyone has hectic and busy schedules, but a good friend once told me, “It’s not that you don’t have time to do what you want to do, it’s that you are not making the time to do it”. Ever since he told me that, I do think differently about prioritizing certain activities and tasks.
- During mealtime. Sitting down as a family is an important time to discuss your day, have a conversation and bond over a meal. Research states that
- At bedtime. This can be challenging for some families but for others, it can be an ideal time to read aloud. With my children, we alternate reading. I will read one chapter, she will read another chapter.
- Down time or between activities. Bring a book in your car. If you are waiting for your other child for a certain activity, use that time in between activities to read aloud rather then using electronics.
Matthiessen, Connie. “Reading Aloud Benefits Even Older Kids.” Parenting. Great Schools!, 14 Jan. 2016. Web. 26 Dec. 2016.