Reading out loud to kids is valuable even after they’ve learned to read themselves. That’s especially true for kids who learn and think differently, who may have a harder time reading and need more encouragement. Here are four reasons to keep reading to kids in grade school.
1. It helps kids build vocabulary.
When kids read to themselves, they have to juggle all the demands of reading. That includes sounding out words, stringing together sentences, and making sense of what they’re reading. But when you read out loud to kids, you expose them to new words in a way that makes it easier to process.
Having a strong vocabulary helps kids read more automatically. It can also give them confidence and a solid base for learning new words, even when you’re not there.
2. It demonstrates reading fluency.
Once kids learn to sound out letters and string together words, they need to practice using expression 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?
Listening to someone read aloud lets kids hear what fluent reading sounds like. And that helps them become fluent readers themselves.
3. It 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 kids lets them enjoy stories written at a higher level, with more complex themes and more mature characters. It gives them a break from struggling with the skills they’d need to read advanced books independently. And it gives kids a taste of what’s in store for them as their reading improves.
4. It shows kids how to make meaning from what they read.
When you read aloud, you help your child develop the building blocks of comprehension. Listening to you read allows kids to understand the story without using attention to decode words. It also lets kids 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 kids by encouraging them 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 grade-schoolers shows them that books aren’t only for school or work — they’re also for fun. By giving kids a way to enjoy them, you may spark their interest in reading more. Encourage kids to read independently and help them find books they’ll like.