You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild,
To pick up a book and read with a child.
You’re never too busy, too cool, or too hot,
To pick up a book and share what you’ve got.
for the full poem
Most parents are aware of the importance of reading aloud to their children, and bedtime stories are often a favorite ritual. The practice of reading aloud, however, falls by the wayside as kids become more independent readers and schedules become busier. Reading out loud to children as they get older children is extremely beneficial for several reasons:
- Children listen on a different level than they read. A child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until eighth grade. You can read seventh-grade books to fifth-grade kids. They’ll get excited about the plot, which is motivation to keep reading. A fifth-grader can enjoy a more complicated plot than they can read themselves.
- Life Lessons.Not only do you find life lessons in books, they can be easier for a child to internalize in that format as opposed to you telling them. Reading aloud can foster discussion about social issues, beliefs and feelings.
- Enjoyment. Reading aloud is a chance to introduce kids to fun books, to genres different from what they read in school and to new authors whom they may not find in the school curriculum. If kids see a parent enjoying reading, they are more likely to also enjoy it.
- Builds vocabulary. Researchers found that “books contain many words, especially the more sophisticated words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language. Children’s books contain 50% more rare words than prime-time television or even college students’ conversations.” Defining a word can be easier when it is heard in context. This can be particularly helpful for tweens, who can struggle to put their intense emotions into words.
- Physical closeness.Reading aloud requires proximity of the listener and reader. It’s tough to pull off from across the house, or even across the room. Although you’re not as likely to snuggle as your child ages, the closeness that comes from reading together can be comforting and benefit both parties.
- Sense of belonging.The tween and even teen years can be marked by a sense of feeling like you don’t belong, whether or not that is the case. Often, great literature and wonderful writing can make the reader and listener feel like they are understood, and reading a book about someone else who feels alone can make the world a bit less lonely.