Everything old is new again, including the trend of reading aloud to children. Teachers have continued this practice in early primary grades, and, as my own mother did for her last 10 or more years of teaching, struggle to keep the practice up in upper elementary classrooms. Over the past six months or so, I have heard buzzing about the importance of read-aloud and I was interested to hear more about what is going on. First, stop to get a pulse on this reading-aloud-like-it’s-new trend was Pinterest. Wow! What do you want to know? Pinterest, like always, has the latest and greatest. I knew when I saw the endless list of grade/age level books, how to’s, and read aloud strategies pinned for teachers, and parents, this is a legit revival! As a person who has fond memories of being read to and reading to children, this is a spark of happiness to see the interest in reading to children again at school and at home. Why is this so important? And why the interest in the topic? Years of research that often seemed to be shelved in favor of other techno-practices is still valid and has a fountain of positive benefits for the listener and the reader. Several of these reasons are evident in assessment data, such as listening comprehension, phonics, oral expression, vocabulary, as well as attention span measures. Here are my top reasons to celebrate and practice read aloud again:
1. Children are able to listen to and enjoy stories that are higher than their own independent reading level. They can appreciate plots, characters, and vocabulary by hearing stories than they would be able to do so on their own. This opens the opportunity for discussion and elaboration to learn more about new concepts, settings, and words with the reader. All benefits of literacy and language skills.
2. Children are able to develop a better appreciation, and (hope of all hopes) love for reading and information. Students actually see benefit from reading, the reader’s excitement, as well as their own imagination, come to life through a story. Their interest in reading can propel them in school readiness skills, fund of knowledge to draw upon for their own writings, and help develop their success in reading as they grow.
3. If for no other reason, reading aloud to a child develops a bond, a relationship, shared enjoyment, inside ‘jokes’ or personal code words, and a sense of belonging and security. I rely on reading stories to children during counseling or social skills lessons to discuss characters, which they can relate to the child, and open doors for further discussion. This is not just for young children, older tweens and even teens can appreciate the sense of togetherness and comfort from an adult reading to them.
Although physically reading books to children of all ages is my personal favorite, there are some great read aloud resources to access online. Story Online (www.storyonline.net) provides a vast bookshelf of stories read by actors and features great visuals of the book, props, and animations. After choosing a story, the site will launch the book through a YouTube link. There are also dedicated YouTube and Audiobook links for a wide variety of books for all ages. This is especially helpful when your personal library is limited, or you are in need of new stories. Summer is a wonderful time to add read aloud to your family time. Enjoy some great summer reads!
Author: Laura Richard, M.A., L.S.S.P.