Reading out loud to kids is valuable even after they’ve learned to read themselves. That’s especially true for kids with learning or attention issues, who may have a harder time reading and need more encouragement. Here’s how reading out loud to your child can help her.
1. Expands Vocabulary
When your child reads to herself, she has to juggle all the demands of reading. That includes decoding letters, understanding words, stringing together sentences and making meaning of what she’s reading. But when you read to her, you expose her to new words in a way that makes it easier to process.
Having a strong vocabulary is a key building block in language learning. It helps your child manage all the tasks of reading automatically. It can also give her more confidence and a solid base for learning new words even when you’re not there.
2. Demonstrates Reading Fluency
After kids learn how to sound out letters and string together words, they need to practice using symbols fluidly as they read. A question mark, for example, indicates a question. But how does that sound when you read it? What do italics sound like?
When you read to your child she can hear fluent reading. That can help her make connections between the symbols on the page and the sound of your voice. You may also want to give her intonations to mimic (“he hurled the ball – and waited…”) as she practices to become more fluent herself.
3. Exposes Kids to More Advanced Books
Kids typically want to read about kids their age or a little older. They also want to read about topics that seem relevant to their own lives. But those books may be above their reading level.
Reading aloud to your child lets her enjoy stories written at a higher level, with more complex themes and more mature characters. It gives her a break from struggling with the skills she’d need to read advanced books all by herself. And it gives her a taste of what’s in store for her as her reading improves.
4. Shows Kids How to Make Meaning From What They Read
When you read to your child, you help her develop the building blocks of comprehension. Listening to you read allows her to understand the story without using her attention to decode words. It also lets her see the strategies you use to make meaning.
You can help your child by pointing out these strategies as you read. You can say things like, “Oh, I get it now. Harry is Matilda’s brother,” or “Wait, I’m confused. Who is this Harry?” You can also engage your child by encouraging her to predict what will happen, figure out the causes for the characters’ actions, and summarize the story so far: “Do you think they’re going to get into trouble? Why?” “Lily seems sad. Why do you think she’s feeling unhappy?”
Reading to your grade-schooler shows her that books aren’t only for school or work—they’re also for fun. By giving her a way to enjoy them, you may spark her interest in reading more herself. Encourage her to read on her own and help her find books she’ll like.