Monday, May 21, 2012

Seven Benefits of Reading Aloud!

With summer here and summer reading programs starting up in full force soon, we get frequent reminders to read to our children.  Reading together is such an intimate activity that we get to do with our children.

But I'm a WHY person and sometimes it is good to have a reminder of WHY it is so important to read to our children!  Am I alone in this???

There are so many benefits to reading aloud.  One of the best gifts we can give our children is shared experiences with books!  The benefits are numerous and profound.  Let me share a few with you.

Reading aloud, EVERY.SINGLE.DAY, is so important because it:

  1. Promotes Relational Intimacy
    • There is something so special and intimate about curling up with your child/children to read a good book.  When tempers are short and we are on edge with one another, I frequently turn to reading aloud.  It is amazing how it calms everyone down and gets us to a place where we can address what is going on in our hearts.
  2. Feeds the Imagination
    • The imagination is a powerful tool in the learning process. Reading aloud feeds and nurtures this as everyone is transported from the couch into the story at hand.
  3. Cultivates an Interest in Books
    • There is something magical about sharing the joy of reading by communicating pleasure in the story.  This goes a long way in growing an interest in books.
  4. Develops a Taste for a Variety of Good Literature
    • As parents, we have a powerful opportunity to shape their taste for good books and a variety of different KINDS of books.  This can be key, especially as children get older when introducing them to literature that might not be something they are naturally drawn towards.
  5. Increases Attention Spans
    • Drawing them into the story helps to focus their attention for increasing lengths of time.  This not only helps with reading, but with many other areas of their lives.  This can be especially important for those really active children.  I've found that busy hands make for focused minds.  As such, I'll often give my boys paper to doodle on, play dough or pipe cleaners/wiki sticks.
  6. Builds Phonemic Awareness
    • Reading builds phonemic awareness and an understanding of the general cadence of our language.  Phonemic awareness is simply being aware of how sounds combine to make words.  This is such an important precursor and ongoing strengthener of reading skills.  Reading to our children introduces them to words and draws them into listening how they are put together. 
    • An early childhood longitudinal study found that children who were read to at least three times a week had a significantly greater phonemic awareness.  Imagine the effect when we read to our children daily!
  7. Builds Vocabulary
    • Reading aloud is one of the most powerful ways to build our children's vocabulary.  The size of a child's vocabulary when they start formal academics is the single greatest predictor of school success or failure.  The words they know before this point determine how much of what is taught will be understood.
    • Once they begin reading, personal vocabulary either feeds or frustrates comprehension.  And that leg-up in vocabulary will keep them at an advantage as material grows increasingly more complicated.
    • Even as kids get older, research has revealed an increase in vocabulary acquisition by 15-40%.  So it is important to KEEP reading to our children, even after they can read on their own.
I'm just getting started...  I'll continue on with some tips on 'how' to help your children enjoy the read-aloud times more, talk about the importance of different types of books and anything else that comes up! 

Related Post: Cultivating Read-Aloud Time


  1. Not like I needed more reasons to skip housework in favor of reading aloud, but thanks for reminding me of all the other benefits. hee, hee. I truly love doing this and need to get our summer reading list made up. I forget sometimes, though, that I have to think of books that girls AND boys like. This may be trickier than I imagine.

  2. We recently started reading through the Little House series and already my kid's are completely enthralled. I can see the "whys" right before my eyes. Thanks for the great reminders. It's surprisingly easy to forget!

  3. Reading aloud has been one of my biggest educational goals through the past school year. This blog encouraged me to keep it up! (I like knowing the WHY, too!) I would love to hear of any good reading lists that you can recommend to help us utilize the public library more effectively.

  4. Make Way for Ducklings! Such a good book.

    More good reasons to read with your children: 1. Anything adults do is cool but something they do WITH their offspring is super-cool! Therefore, much affirmation and value is communicated to those who are read with. 2. Adults/parents can make stories ever so rich with dramatic intonations, etc. 3. Poetry, read by those who love it and value it for its musical, artistic, even spiritual qualities, can infect young ones with a longing to express themselves and an ability to enjoy the beauty of thoughts and the sounds of words.

  5. Oh Jamie, we are two peas in a pod!!! Housework will be with us forever. Our kids won't be.

    Daye, I haven't read those yet with my boys, but I think we will need to remedy that this summer. It is just beautiful to witness the benefits!

    Louisa, Honey for a Child's Heart and Jim Trelease's "Read Aloud Handbook" have great lists. I also have found great suggestions at

    Families, AMEN to your additions! so true!