The Case for Reading Aloud to Older Children

A recent report by Scholastic discovered a high percentage of parents reading aloud to their children at home when they are younger, but that declines as their kids progress through elementary school. That may not be a surprise. Parents’ work schedules, increasing homework obligations, after-school activities, and other time pressures often mean parents are happy to gain back the moments they spend reading with their kids once the kids can read on their own. What is surprising is what Scholastic found next; many of the kids who were read to wish their parents had kept up the practice. Even up to age 11, 40 percent of the kids surveyed said they wished their parents would have kept reading aloud to them. The main reason they cited was because it was a special time with parents.

There are also advantages that kids aren’t aware of, including the fact that kids understand books that are more challenging than those they can read themselves. So when parents read to them, they can learn new words and follow more complicated story lines that will help them understand classwork better.

Moms and dads may also benefit. In addition to having special time with their kids, when parents read with their children they probably talk about the story and the issues the characters face. This can lead to discussions about similar situations the kids’ are dealing with in daily life.

Here’s an idea if you’d like to begin reading aloud with your older child—borrow a practice many schools engage in called DEAR, or Drop Everything and Read. Find a consistent time each day that may work for one-on-one or family reading time and read for 15, 20 or 30 minutes, whatever you can manage. Commit to doing this for one month, and then talk to your kids about how it’s working out. Adjust the time spent or timing in the day if needed, but don’t be surprised if DEAR becomes the favorite time of day for all of you.

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