Do we really need to read aloud to our kids? Why should we read aloud to our young children? How does reading aloud to our children when they are preschoolers, benefit them later on when it is time to learn to read? Are there long-lasting benefits that make the effort worthwhile?
Here are five things kids can learn when parents regularly read books aloud to their children:
1. About Books—Books have a front and a back cover, some books have interesting pictures, books have pages in them, the pages are read from left to right and top to bottom, and usually there are words on the pages in books.
2. ABC’s are Important—Letters make words, words make sentences, and sentences tell a story.
3. Vocabulary—Children who are read to will hear and learn many new words, so children who are read to will develop a larger vocabulary than children who are not read to. A larger vocabulary can help children recognize words when they are learning to read.
4. Auditory Development and Imagination—Children who are often read to learn to listen and they learn to visualize the story in their minds. They learn to sit reasonably still and pay attention while listening to a story (age appropriately of course). They begin to gain phonemic awareness if they listen to rhyming stories or poems. When parents discuss the stories they read with their children, children also learn to think about what they have heard.
5. Print Awareness—Parents often will move a finger along under the words as they read a story aloud to a preschooler, which helps the child become more aware that the print stands for meaningful words. Children will often then begin to recognize words in the environment around them (such as “stop” or “exit” signs, and names of restaurants and stores).
These five things may not seem to be significant, but they are useful when students are ready to learn to read. Children who have been read to are more likely to have an easier time learning to read in school.
This is not to say that children who have been read to will never have difficulty learning to read—because there are many children whose parents have done all of this and they have done it very well, and their children still have difficulty learning to read. Children also must be given good reading instruction, but given proper instruction, those who have regularly been read to have a head start compared to those who have not had this valuable learning experience.
Read a story to your child today!