Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Reaching Readers: Read To Them Aloud, At Any Age

Getting four kids ready for bed is sometimes like herding cats.

As soon as one has brushed his teeth, another has wandered off for a drink of water, while another decided her favorite stuffed animal must be immediately recovered from some far-off corner of the house.

And getting four siblings to agree to do the same thing at the same time almost never happens. So I cherish the nights when all of them, from the 15-year-old down to the 5-year-old, are climbing into my bed before it’s even bedtime.

Reading a bedtime story has been a tradition since my oldest was a toddler. At first it was board books and picture books. Then, as the kids have gotten older, the books have become longer. Sometimes I read to them alone, but often it’s in a group, now with the younger three kids.

Occasionally, I pick a book that pulls all four of them in.

My 5-year-old needs to sit close to see any illustrations in the book. My 7-year-old listens with his eyes closed because he doesn’t want to look at any pictures- he wants to imagine it in his head. My 9-year-old wants to cuddle as she listens. Those rare and special times my 15-year-old joins us, she sprawls at the end of the bed, usually the first and loudest to laugh at whatever we are reading.

They like listening to me read books aloud to them together because it creates a contagious emotion between them. When one laughs, they all do. When one cries, they all console. It’s like the energy at a movie theater verses watching the movie at home, alone. You can do it, and you see the same movie, but there is less energy in the feelings.

Reading verses Listening


People know the value in kids reading to themselves. They gain wonderful skills and knowledge from reading. Research shows, for example, there is a link between reading and the level of empathy kids display. Reading helps kids interact with those that are different than them by increasing their thinking abilities.

But, according to Scholastic, fewer kids are actually reading for fun.

One of the easiest ways to fix this is to read aloud to your kids.

From the Scholastic “The Kids and Family Reading Report, 5th Edition”:
“Among kids ages 6-17, 83% enjoyed being read aloud to at home because:
78% It’s a special time with a parent;
65% Reading together is fun;
54% It’s relaxing to be read to before I go to sleep
Among kids ages 6-11 who are no longer read aloud to at home, 40% wish it had continued.”
Reading to your kids, even after they can read to themselves, promotes longer attention spans and helps with listening skills. Reading to them helps develop language. And it feeds their imagination and creative thinking.

I don’t think there is an age that you need to stop reading to your kids. My 15-
year-old loves to read and reads quickly. However, when she was a tween, I noticed she would miss details of the story or nuances of language. When I read aloud to her, it slowed her down and engaged her imagination more. Even now, she says she loves to listen to the voices I use for characters and that she can see the images more in her head when I read to her.

We’ve read light and funny stories, like Stink and Katie Kazoo. We’ve read classics, like How To Eat Fried Worms and Matilda. And we’ve tackled some series like Harry Potter, Sisters Grimm and Little House on the Prairie.

Tonight, we are reading a book by a new favorite author: James and the Giant Peach.

And, yes, even the 15-year-old wants to listen to me read this one.


1 comment:

  1. Great post Becky! I also love reading aloud to my children. We're currently reading THE BOUNDLESS by Kenneth Oppel and everyone is loving it, my 5 year old through my 12 year old. I love finding books that appeal to all my children.

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