Is there any value in having children read aloud? As tedious as it may be, it has tremendous value! I love books! I love reading and I like reading aloud to the whole family. But what about having children read aloud to us?

Family reading

Having a child read aloud is recommended by teachers and experts (and deservedly so) as it has immense benefits such as:

  • diagnosing language and speaking problems,
  • building speaking skills,
  • developing hand/eye coordination between paragraph and page structure,
  • develops vocabulary,
  • stimulates the imagination,
  • encourages creativity with voice and, if practiced regularly, can help with self-confidence and esteem.

Whew! Reading aloud accomplishes an awful lot… so much for such a simple exercise. Exposure to good books will also assist later on in the years with creative writing and journal keeping. Some ideas for writing to read are to:

  • have the child write out your shopping list and then help you with the shopping,
  • read suitable sections of the newspaper with them,
  • create and maintain a journal with them – you write one day, they respond the next day. This provides them with positive feedback in a non-threatening way.

Start Early

While it’s never to late too start having your child read aloud, it’s never too early either! If you think about it, most parents naturally do it anyway. Think about reading those first baby picture books that have pictures of single words like Mum, Dad, house, ball, dog, etc. Parents point to the picture and say the word, hoping for some response from the baby. Then gradually the books change and start to include more Repetition and Rhyme. Small children love repetition and rhyme and it is really important to their development. They will enjoy memorising and anticipating what comes next in a favourite book.

I have my children read aloud when they are learning to read. It isn’t something that is burdensome, it’s quite natural. When I am reading their book or reader with them, I simply ‘buddy read‘ with them. I’ll read a paragraph and then I’ll ask them to read a short passage. if they stumble over a word then I will help them. The goal is to build confidence and develop skills and fluency not to major on every word or expect perfection. Over time, they are able to read larger and more complicated passages. This is fairly standard with new and developing readers. Sadly though, once a child is fairly fluent in reading, many parents stop requiring their child to read aloud. 🙁

Next we might read some short poems. Choose poems that tell a story, have rhyme and rhythm and paint a word picture. Your child will love them!

Then comes the short chapter books with simple sentences where we help our child to decode words and read entire short sentences. As they try to sometimes make mistakes, we are there to help them along the way:correcting mistakes and helping them deal with frustration and congratulating them when they get it right. Once the children are fluent and capable readers there is no read to have them stop. Simply choose harder books and challenge them! 🙂 You can move on to read difficult passages in the Bible using the King James version, unabridged classics, poetry and speeches.

Good Literature

Reading aloud fine works of literature (or fine speeches) is the basis for public speaking (oratory skills) and is especially good for older children and boys. My boys are verbal with each other but not necessarily with me and the rest of the family. They don’t give wonderfully verbose and detailed oral narrations yet I know that they have the knowledge so I require them to read aloud a fair bit- to each other, to me, to their sisters and we still buddy read. I have them read their Bible and poetry out loud.

I also use reading aloud as an elocution (pronunciation) lesson. My boys can tend to mumble so we need to continue to practice it. Plus, I’d like it to be a habit so that they will naturally read to their own children. So why stop it?

My boys do lots of their own reading as they are in the ‘building fluency‘ stage so their books are suited to their developmental stage. When choosing passages for them to read aloud, I try to make them according to their level and ability without being too hard, yet still challenging. I try to challenge my daughters though as they are capable of handling more.

I still have all my children read aloud! It is a skill that needs to be practiced. I find that if we’ve been busy (like moving house or holidays) and I haven’t read aloud even I stumble and sound ‘bitty’ for a few pages until I get back into it. However, I’m not super-mum so I won’t pretend that we do it every day. Like most things, there are times of focus and times when it goes on the back-burner.

Live It! Model It!

If we value books and reading then our children need to see it in practice. Why will they value reading if they never see us read? They may start to believe it is something that only children do, and in their desire for maturity, give it up!

  • Make sure your children see you reading a variety of writing.
  • Make sure that you read aloud a wide variety of literature to them (personally, I think the Bible is the best and most important).
  • As the children get older tell them why it is important for them to know how to read aloud well. Often older children respond well to knowing why they are required to do something- they’ll often give their best once they know what they’re doing it (part of assuming responsibility for their own education).
  • One way for older children to practice reading aloud with character and inflection in a non threatening way is to have them read good books to their younger siblings. Younger children will rarely complain about it and it is also a lovely sibling bonding time. This has worked well in our home.

I think the key is all about giving the children opportunity to practice something- achieve a good standard which will build their confidence, which has the roll on effect of continuing to build necessary skills.

Do your children read aloud? How is it in your family?

Feel free to share via posting a comment or writing on your own blog (just comment me and let me know you’ve posted so I can read your blog).