Guest Blog Post by Ashley Eneriz
You already know the amazing benefits of reading to your child, and most parents try to squeeze in as many books as we can alongside a busy work, school, and activity schedule. When children finally master reading on their own, it is exciting to watch them become more independent in their reading. However, just because your child can read on their own does not mean it is time to ditch reading aloud time.
In fact, your kids might never outgrow the need and benefits that come from being read to.
A child can read independently at one level, but they can listen and comprehend at a higher level. While they might only be interested in reading early chapter books by themselves, kids will still enjoy listening to higher level books, such as “Chronicles of Narnia” or “Lord of the Rings.”
With read-aloud books, you are introducing them to bigger words and the right pronunciation. Children are able to ask what a word means or might defer the meaning through the context of the passage. It is much harder to understand a word meaning through context when reading independently because kids are more likely to get distracted by the sight of the unknown word.
Increase Book Love
Many children get turned off of books because their beloved picture books are then replaced by longer books packed with a lot of words. When it comes to being entertained, kids have a choice, flip on the TV/computer or read. Obviously the first choice is a much easier, passive way to be entertained, whereas reading takes work and time.
The more books children hear, the more their love for books increases. They are easily able to imagine what is happening in the story and are actively conjuring up images of the present story and predictions for the rest of the story. They subconsciously are making that connection that books are fun and entertaining. Be sure to further their interest in books by reading in an engaging voice, rather than a flat or monotone voice.
“If I could only get them to talk to me!” This is the common cry among tween and teen parents. The once bubbly toddler who wouldn’t stop talking quickly transforms into the 11-year-old that mutters, “Fine,” when asked how her day was.
Reading aloud with your children, tweens, and teens can transform your relationship and increase your interaction with your child. Tweens and teens will probably not admit enjoying read-aloud time at first, but start with a thrilling mystery or the Harry Potter series, and you will have them hooked.
Books bring up a lot of things to discuss, rant about, disagree with, and so on. If you come across a controversial topic in a book, such as how “Of Mice and Men” essentially has assisted suicide, ask your kids their honest opinion. Remember, there are no wrong answers, and by listening and respecting their thoughts about a book, they are more likely to open up about other things they are going through or have on their mind.
How to Introduce Read Aloud Time in Your Home
For families with younger children, it is very simple to introduce a read aloud time. Pick a time or day and make it a regular thing. For example, Saturday morning breakfast can give you a good 30 minutes of read aloud time. Even 10 minutes each night after dinner will add up to over an hour of reading aloud time at the end of the week.
For homes with older children, tweens, and teens who are not used to being read aloud to, introduce the idea to them. Older children can even pick out the book, if they want. You can also use a book that will need to be used for a school project.
There really should not be any rules. Children should listen quietly, but they can keep their hands busy with doodling, coloring, Legos, or crafting. Some younger children even listen better when they are bouncing on a ball or small trampoline. Incorporating reading time during meal time also cuts down on distractions and chatter.
Making read-aloud time a common occurrence in your household will take some effort on your part, but it will quickly become cherished family time. Remember, great thinkers are not made through electronic devices, instead they are made through the pages of good books.
Ashley Eneriz’s favorite school memory is reading her favorite books secretly under schoolbooks because the literary world was always more fascinating than what the teacher was saying. Thankfully she was never caught. She is now a mom of two daughters and children’s book author of How to Sell Your Sister for Fun and Profit and the Blondie McGhee series.