Reading Aloud to Children
“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”
—Becoming a Nation of Readers, U.S. Department of Education
On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!
It’s never too early to begin reading aloud. You can start when your child is born. Infants learn the sounds, rhythms, and patterns of language as they sit on your lap, listening to your voice and watching your face.
I Can Read! has become the number one beginning-reader series in the country, featuring more award-winning titles, authors, and illustrators than any other beginning-reader series. I Can Read! books can be read to young children until they are able to read favorite titles on their own. Literacy experts suggest parents continue reading to their children through the teen years!
Reading Aloud to Learn and Grow
Reading I Can Read! books not only improves reading skills, but gives kids a chance to learn how their favorite characters deal with feelings, problems, and life. Whether reading Go Away, Dog or Little Bear, many books from the I Can Read! collection can be used to help children think and talk about their fears, worries, and accomplishments. Imagine the opportunities for open discussion with your child after reading stories that relate to his or her own experiences.
What does the research say?
Researchers Susan Hall and Louisa Moats, authors of Straight Talk About Reading: How Parents Can Make a Difference During the Early Years, list six ways that reading aloud benefits children:
Through reading aloud, a child:
A Magical Time Together
- Develops background knowledge about a variety of topics
- Builds vocabulary
- Becomes familiar with rich language patterns
- Develops familiarity with story structure
- Acquires familiarity with the reading process
- Identifies reading as a pleasurable activity
Whether you are in front of your fireplace or under a tree in the yard, shared reading time is special. “When we get involved in reading aloud to our babies and other children, we often forget entirely that we should be reading aloud. . . . We relate so warmly to our kids as we read together, that it becomes a delicious ‘chocolate’ kind of experience,” says literacy expert and best-selling author Mem Fox.
Kids really enjoy hearing their parents use different voices for each character. They also like to participate in the story by speaking for one character. Our popular Biscuit book series often includes repeated phrases throughout each book. Say these phrases together, slowly and with dramatic flair—or try making animal noises! Biscuit, a charming little puppy, says, “Woof! Woof!” throughout the books. Kids have tons of fun saying that phrase during shared reading in their best puppy voices.
The Facts of Life
Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, says, “There are two basic reading facts of life that can’t be ignored.” They are:
Adults read for pleasure and information. We ask ourselves questions as a plot moves along. If a plot isn’t going anywhere, or the book isn’t engaging, the book is thrown on a dusty shelf or given away.
Children desire pleasurable and engaging books, too. You can introduce your child to the pleasures of anticipation while reading I Can Read! books together. Try stopping during the story to make comments such as:
- Human beings are pleasure-centered
- Reading is an accrued skill
As parents, you can make reading fun. If reading with your child is enjoyable, you’ll do it more often. If you do it more often, your child will increase their skills and grow into a confident reader.
The goal is, after all, to create lifelong readers.
For more ideas on developing reading skills, take a look at “Reading Help at Home” or “Improving Your Child’s Thinking Skills.” You can also stay up to date on ways to introduce children to the joy of reading and allow them to develop at their own pace with the I Can Read! Newsletter.
See a bibliography for this article.
Little Bear art © Maurice Sendak
- “Hmmm, I wonder where they are going”
- “Who do you think did it?”
- “What do you think will happen next?”
Biscuit art © Pat Schories
Amelia Bedelia © Lynn Sweat