Although we know it’s important to read aloud to our children, we may not be aware of all of its benefits, especially for our older children. Reading aloud was a bonding time when my son was younger and a necessity that grew into a bonding time when he was in high school.
During his younger years, along with the bonding, I knew our nightly reading helped increase my son’s vocabulary. I recall overhearing his friends scolding him with “your words, Hayden!” This phrase was uttered time and again, not because he had said something bad but because they couldn’t understand him. His teachers called him the little professor, and I used him as my own personal thesaurus.
Because most children’s listening vocabulary is 2-3 grade levels above their independent reading vocabulary, you can read aloud increasingly complex books (texts). Modeling the comprehension method of making text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections will help deepen understanding of these above-level books. Text connections are made when discussing how certain elements of the book remind them of an experience they’ve had, another book they’ve read, or something they’ve seen or heard. (If you’d like more information on this comprehension lesson, contact me at FEAST’s Resource Center, and I’d be happy to share it with you). Reading aloud also provides parents with quality time when working together to unfold a character’s development or when trying to predict the outcomes of a plot’s twists and turns. Books like The Whipping Boy and The Giver gave us opportunities for debate, increased an awareness of emotions, and deepened questioning skills. Before I knew it, my son was old enough to read independently and our daily read aloud time wasn’t necessary.
In high school, due to a tic disorder, the physical demands of reading lengthy novels became difficult.
When we struggled to find audible books for his required reading, I was more than happy to dust off my old read-aloud skills. I soon found that reading aloud gave me opportunities to sneak in life lessons—those “see that’s why mom doesn’t let you…” and “…hmm, what would you do differently in that situation?” moments. Opportunities for cautionary tales came about when reading about times, places, and situations occurring beyond the setting of our relatively quiet life. American and British Literature co-op class assigned reading gave more opportunities for debate and lively discussions about our interpretations of symbolism being used, the author’s word choices, character development, the importance of setting, and so on. In the end, I think I learned more from him than he did from me, but I enjoyed sitting in the front row and watching him develop into such a skilled reader and thinker.
For more information contact Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org or (210) 342-4674 .