I know you know the importance of reading to your preschooler, but do you know WHY it is so important? With some tips from Jim Trelease, the author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, and from my years of teaching and working with children, I would like to explain the WHY of reading aloud:

  1. Read to your children, even as infants because the sound of your voice is a beacon of calmness, conditioning the child to associate you and the book with security. Begin with a few minutes and progress to at least 20-30 minutes for a five year old. Snuggle and read time go hand and hand, building a special bond between you and your child.  Dads, I trust you are reading, too!
  2. Reading aloud builds your child’s vocabulary. By age four, most children who have been read to have heard 45 million words.
  3. Reading aloud builds their ability to comprehend what you are saying and reading. I witnessed this first-hand when I was collaborating with a kindergarten teacher and parent to figure out why this bright little girl did not understand common words and story lines. It was sad to learn this precious little girl had not had the gift of being read to.
  4. Even when children begin reading, parents should continue reading aloud. Select books that are two years above reading level.This stretches the child’s understanding of places, personalities, plot lines, and you guessed it – vocabulary! Sentence structure is more interesting and complex also, which helps the writing process in later grades.
  5. Research shows that children who come from homes with the most print – books and magazines have the highest reading scoresHighlights are wonderful little magazines. Highlights Hello is for ages 0-2; High Five is for ages 2-6; Highlights magazine is for ages 6-12. To find out more: www.highlights.com/Fun2Read. Thrift stores and garage sales are great places to find children’s books to build your at-home library. Books are a great gift for grandparents to give!
  6. As your child outgrows naptime, let your child rest and read (look at books quietly in bed). This is a win-win!  Picture books will captivate a child’s interest and activate his or her imagination.
  7. Books on tape are great for short or long car trips. They can be checked out at your local library. Rather than watching something on a device in the car, give your child the book and allow him to follow along while you play the CD.  This builds listening and reading skills and is screen-free!
  8. Ask questions to build thinking and reading skills: predict what will happen next; look at the book’s cover and try to determine what the book is about; tell me your favorite character and why; summarize the story or the page in your own words; did you like the story’s ending– why or why not. Sometimes, the beauty of reading aloud is simply for enjoyment; one doesn’t always need to ask questions for a profitable learning and/or bonding experience. Simply enjoy!
  9. Reading books that rhyme is a wonderful way to increase your child’s phonemic awareness (the ability to hear individual sounds), which is a precursor to your child’s success in learning to read.
  10. Books and stories can teach empathy and other valuable character traits, helping children grow emotionally. 

Next week, I will be sharing from Books That Build Character, A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories by William Kilpatrick and Gregory and Suzanne M. Wolfe.

Jeannie shares a personal story about how reading aloud to her grandson connected them in a special way!