One of Australia’s favourite children’s authors, Mem Fox, has been quoted as saying, “If you can’t read aloud to your kid for 10 minutes a day, why have you got a child? Why have you got one? Wouldn’t it have been better for you to have a goldfish?”
It’s pretty direct, but true. Reading to our kids has such enormous benefits. It’s not just a nice thing to do; it’s an essential thing to do.
Research indicates that 75% of brain development occurs between birth and the age of three and early language experience stimulates a child’s brain to grow. Reading to children gives them a huge advantage when they start school. It is the single most important thing parents can do to develop their child’s emerging literacy skills.
Why Read Aloud to Kids? Reading aloud with your child expands their vocabulary, it teaches them about the rhythm of spoken language, and it develops their imagination and understanding of the world. And just as importantly, it shows them that they matter to you.
Apart from the cognitive benefits of reading there’s so much wonder, enjoyment, and pleasure to be found in the pages of a book. I believe reading unlocks the treasures of the world. Without reading we simply miss out on so much that the world has to offer.
In this post I share with you my three essential tips to reading aloud with your child.
1. Help your child find books they adore.
This may sound obvious but often parents will assume responsibility for choosing their children’s books for them, only to find that their child screws up their nose and refuses to read. Sometimes we get it very wrong.
A simple way to help your child find books they adore is to let them browse bookstores, catalogues, online and at the library. Give them the opportunity to pick up books, flick through the pages and to see what jumps out and grabs them.
Sometimes their choices may surprise you and that’s great. If they are looking forward to reading a story, you have started off on the right foot.
2. Read aloud together for 10 minutes every day.
As Mem rightly reminds us, if you can’t read aloud to your child for 10 minutes a day why have a child? Even in a parent’s busy day, finding 10 minutes is achievable. And 10 minutes every day as opposed to reading for longer once a week will have much more benefit.
Reading every day gets us in the habit of regular reading as well as continually building our child’s language ability piece by piece, over time. Small chunks of pure unadulterated reading bliss, assists your child to not only learn the rhythm of language, but to also learn to treasure your daily reading time together.
Reading aloud to children should start from birth, but it’s also important to continue even after our children become fluent readers. Reading aloud helps children’s developing language skills regardless of their age. It’s why teachers still read aloud to their students even when they are well into middle and upper primary school.
3. Make reading a special time together.
As author Emilie Buchwald once observed, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” And this is true for many of us. Adults often recount the precious and treasured moments spent sitting on their parent’s lap as a child getting lost in the pages of a book. There’s something to be said for the special bond that is formed between parents and their children through the sharing of stories.
Reading together is when we are able to shut the door on our crazy, busy lives and focus on one thing together, without distractions. It may be a time to be wildly raucous, to laugh together, to shed a tear, to daydream, to pump and shake fists in defiance, to tremble with fear, or to relax and drift gently off to sleep. Whatever reading aloud does, it is always special.
Reading aloud with our children every day has so many wonderful benefits and its power should not be underestimated. If you make it a ritual in your house, I have no doubt you and your child will be rewarded immeasurably. And I’m sure you’ll be glad you didn’t opt for the goldfish!
Have you tried reading aloud to your child? Why not leave a comment and share your experience.