Last week we discussed the importance of reading aloud, even to very young children. But what about older kids? Well, let's see...
Even parents who read to their small children frequently often stop once the child is reading independently. But children still benefit enormously from reading with you!
Studies show that students can generally understand a book that's two grade levels higher than their independent reading level. In fact, their reading level doesn't catch up to their listening level until around 8th grade! By reading to your children, you give them an opportunity to enjoy a story that is too difficult for them to read themselves. This serves an advertisement for the great stuff coming for them, just down the road, if they keep reading.
It can also give you great opportunities to discuss life issues with your children. As fictional characters face difficult circumstances, it can open doors of conversation in your family.
There is a brief article "The Importance of Reading Aloud to Older Children" that summarizes many other benefits of reading aloud to older children.
In addition, reading aloud accomplishes things that I haven’t found any other way to do. First, it demonstrates the old adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” I don’t know how many times we started a book that my kids were not enthused about, only to find them hooked and loving it mid-way through. This also teaches kids patience. Maybe the book doesn’t start off with action from the first page but reading together gives the students time to get into it. Too often, students left to their own devices will start a book and drop it when it doesn’t catch them right away. Sometimes that’s okay, of course, but if it’s a regular pattern, the student may never develop the patience for longer, more complex literature.
The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.
(Jim Trelease, The Read Aloud Handbook.)
It's never too early, or too late!
For more information on the benefits of reading aloud and information how to get started, you can check out The Read Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids by Sarah Mackenzie