The joys of read­ing to­gether

Here are 10 good things that come from read­ing aloud to older chil­dren.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Family - By RE­GAN MCMAHON

EVERY par­ent knows that it’s good to read to chil­dren when they’re lit­tle.

It helps ba­bies, tod­dlers, and preschool­ers de­velop spo­ken lan­guage, recog­nise let­ters and words, and get ready for kinder­garten. But it’s ac­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial to read to chil­dren even af­ter they can read on their own.

Re­search shows that con­tin­ued read­ing aloud af­ter age five (and well beyond) im­proves read­ing and lis­ten­ing skills and aca­demic per­for­mance (and is also loads of fun!).

Here are 10 key rea­sons to keep read­ing aloud to older chil­dren:

It builds vo­cab­u­lary. Chil­dren who read en­counter more words – and learn how to recog­nise and pro­nounce them – than they would by just be­ing spo­ken to. And stud­ies show that hav­ing a large vo­cab­u­lary can help chil­dren per­form bet­ter in school.

It im­proves com­pre­hen­sion. When chil­dren are en­gaged and in­vested in the story, they un­der­stand it more thor­oughly. You can check in as you go to see whether your child un­der­stands what’s go­ing on and ask what they think will hap­pen next, what they think of the char­ac­ters, and so on. It’s won­der­ful for bond­ing. Pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ences and warm mem­o­ries of hearing sto­ries from a loved one can in­spire a life­long love of read­ing. Award-win­ing nov­el­ist T.C. Boyle told a crowd at the 2017 Los An­ge­les Times Fes­ti­val Of Books that he learned to read not in school but from his mum read­ing to him – and that when he reads now, he still hears her voice in his head.

It pro­vides pos­i­tive mod­el­ling. Chil­dren learn through ob­ser­va­tion and mod­el­ling. Read­ing aloud lets them hear what lan­guage sounds like. You can also model how to an­a­lyse a story as you read and how to fig­ure out the mean­ing of a word us­ing con­text clues.

It im­proves lis­ten­ing skills. Read­ing aloud nur­tures ap­pre­ci­a­tion of rich lan­guage and helps train kids’ ears for un­der­stand­ing in­struc­tion in school. Ac­cord­ing to ed­u­ca­tor Jim Tre­lease, au­thor of The Read-Aloud Hand­book, “A child’s read­ing level doesn’t catch up to his lis­ten­ing level un­til eighth grade.”

It’s a way to dis­cover the clas­sics. Chil­dren may be

Ac­cord­ing to Scholas­tic’s 2016 Kids & Fam­ily Read­ing Re­port – a na­tional sur­vey of chil­dren aged six to 17 and their par­ents that ex­plores at­ti­tudes and be­hav­iours around books and read­ing – 59% of par­ents read to kids from birth to age five, but only 38% read to their fiveto eight-year-olds, and a scant 17% keep read­ing to kids aged nine to 11.

Yet most chil­dren aged six to 11 (and most par­ents) re­port that they en­joy read-aloud time. Ev­ery­one loves a good story, whether it’s in the form of a pa­per book, an ebook, an au­dio­book, or even a pod­cast. put off by the chal­leng­ing lan­guage of Shake­speare or the old-fash­ioned set­tings of Jane Austen in school, but in a cozy set­ting at home, you can help the text come alive as you take on dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters’ voices and fill in his­tor­i­cal con­text. It helps with dis­cussing dif­fi­cult is­sues. Chil­dren may tune out if you lec­ture them about what to do and what not to do. But if you read a story that shows char­ac­ters grap­pling with se­ri­ous con­flicts and the con­se­quences of their ac­tions, or fac­ing bul­ly­ing, racism, re­li­gious or eth­nic bias, or gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion, it’s a way into talk­ing about com­plex, top­i­cal mat­ters.

It’s a way to in­tro­duce dif­fer­ent gen­res. Read­ing aloud lets par­ents in­tro­duce chil­dren to dif­fer­ent types of books and sto­ries, help­ing them learn which kinds they’d like to choose for them­selves. Read­ing a va­ri­ety of ma­te­rial boosts all kinds of learn­ing. Try po­etry, satire, manga, and au­to­bi­ogra­phies.

It’s a por­tal into your kids’ in­ter­ests. Read­ing books on sub­jects or in gen­res kids love (sci-fi, fan­tasy, mys­ter­ies, thrillers, graphic nov­els, Norse mythol­ogy, Minecraft, what­ever!) gives you some­thing to share and dis­cuss, while also putting you on a level play­ing field – rather than you al­ways be­ing the teacher who knows more than they do.

It sparks cu­rios­ity and a thirst for learn­ing. Non­fic­tion books make great readalouds, too. For older kids and teens, try books or ar­ti­cles by jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing cur­rent or re­cent events and world is­sues. And there are lots of pop­u­lar his­to­ries that are so en­gag­ing they read like nail-bit­ing fic­tion. – Com­mon Sense Me­dia/Tribune News Ser­vice

Read­ing aloud with your older chil­dren opens up more space to en­gage and ex­plore their in­ter­ests. — TNS

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