Monday, 27 April 2015

6 reasons why you should {still} read to kids who can read to themselves!





We all know how important it is to read to our children, right? We want to raise up happy little readers, and so from babyhood to school age, we eagerly read, read, read.

However, once they get to the age where they can start reading for themselves, it can seem like it's the right time to hang up the old 'Read Aloud Hat' (What, your family doesn't have a reading hat!? Ha!). Because we know much they need or want to practice their new reading 'skillz', we let them read aloud to us instead of us reading to them. Or we even encourage them to just read silently to themselves. Our job is done, right? They can READ, after all!

It's all too easy to pass that reading baton on to our kids after five or six years or so of dedicated service, huh? We might prefer to still read to them (reading and snuggles each night is the best!!), but we start to think we are doing them a disservice by not letting them practice their own reading. But guess what - there are a bunch of good reasons to continue to read to our kiddos. There are rich benefits to reading to them from birth... until they can read to themselves... and then keeping on reading to them until they leave home.... or at least beg you to stop, haha ;)

My daughter is six and a half and quite a confident reader these days - she is often keen to just read to herself! So, as much as I love reading to her, at times it has been tempting to just encourage her to go read to herself at the end of a loooong day. That's why I have been reflecting back on all the reasons I want to keep up both types of reading, as reminder to myself. I thought I would share some of these reasons here! Some of these facts were picked up from one of my favourite books, The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease (not an affiliate link, just a book I love! I highly recommend to anyone wanting to encourage a love of reading in your home or classroom)....


6 reasons why we should (still!) read to kids who can read to themselves....

  1. BONDING. Reading aloud to our kids at any age continues to promote close bonding, the benefits of quality time and the joy of shared experiences.
  2. ADVERTISING. Yes, advertising - a good thing in this case! Every time we read aloud to a child, we are giving a 'commercial' about the pleasure of reading. You, as their (awesome!) parent are a huge influence. They think you are pretty cool - even if they are at an age where they won't admit it! Every read aloud is an ad for the simple pleasure of reading. And a child/tween/teen who believes reading is fun will read, and learn to love to read :) 
  3. STRETCHING. Children can listen and comprehend on a much higher level than they can read. Continuing to read aloud exposes them to more words, more concepts, more complex, interesting and engaging stories than they could read for themselves. This enhances attention span and also encourages them to stretch their own reading abilities - when they want to keep reading a book they may not have felt interested or confident enough to tackle before. Fun fact: Reading and listening skills tend to begin to converge around 14 years of age.
  4. EXPOSURE. The more we read aloud from rich texts, the more our children are exposed to a wider vocabulary and correct grammar forms. Written text is much more complex and structured than spoken/conversational language, so the more exposure kids get to it, the better off they are. Not to mention hearing the correct pronunciation for words they may be mispronouncing in their heads when they read. Rather than correction, let the right form simply seep in through listening! All those words and phrasings pour into listening ears who can then apply it in their own writing and reading. Remember that grammar is more caught than taught!
  5. ALL BENEFIT. Kids, teens and (let's be honest) adults don't really read as much as they could. Reading is sooooo enriching on so many levels, a little more reading is good for everyone - including us, the parents! :) The shared learning has double the benefit!
  6. INFLUENCE. Sharing a good book together is a wonderful way to continue to connect even through the tween and teen years when they can start to gravitate to outside influences (peers, TV, internet). You can introduce books that deal with sensitive issues, moral dilemmas or other subjects you want to open up a dialogue about with your child. If possible, read together one on one, which gives your child a comfortable space to talk about any thoughts or feelings that emerge after sharing the book. Keep connected through reading!


Now, does this mean we only read to our kids and don't encourage them to read to us, or read silently to themselves? Of course not! In a literacy rich household, ideally there is a mix of all three. As in reality, we don't have unlimited amounts of time (nor energy!!!), this could mean you include a little of all three elements each day. Another option is alternating each night (e.g. one night you read to them, the next night they read to you, the next night they read to themselves). No doubt you will find your own groove!


The important thing to remember is that just because a child can read for themselves, doesn't mean there aren't still numerous and rich benefits to you reading to them. So grab a book and a kid, snuggle up and read away :)


xx Kate


PS I would love to hear recommendations of your favourite 'read alouds' for ages 6+. Post them in the comments and I will continue to edit/add to this list of some of our family's favourite books so far. We are always looking for new read-alouds and it would be great to build a good resource list for everyone!

  • The Chronicles of Narnia series / CS Lewis
  • Milly Molly Mandy series / Joyce Lankester Brisley
  • Enid Blyton - any of her hundreds of books!
  • Harry Potter series / JK Rowling (as age appropriate)
  • Little House on the Prairie / Laura Ingalls Wilder

Adding to the list as per YOUR suggestions...(keep 'em coming!)

  • Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie
  • Anything by Roald Dahl
  • Pippi Longstocking
  • Charlotte's Web
  • The Secret Garden
  • Peter Pan
  • Heidi
  • Dot and the Kangaroo
  • Noddy series
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Blinky Bill
  • The Magic Pudding
  • Little Women

(Ok, ok, this list obviously has a more classic bent... I am going back to childhood faves! I'd love to add some more modern but good quality reads to our list, so I would LOVE some suggestions of that type too!)

PPS If you are interested in reading more about building a literacy-rich home, you can read here about the benefits of 'silent reading' for the whole family!


28 comments:

  1. I loved every word of it! My dad read to me until I was 12, more so when I was sick with flu. He is still my best friend and we have the most beautiful relationships.

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    1. So glad you enjoyed the post :) Your memory of reading with your dad sound very precious!

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  2. Love!!

    Ok some titles bailey has enjoyed...

    Noddy series
    BFG
    Danny the Champion of the world
    Charlie and the chocolate factory
    Pippy longstockings

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    1. Ooh great suggestions!! Pippi Longstocking - YES the kids would love that!! will have to hunt down my copy. Some great suggestions, I will add them to the main list, thanks :)

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  3. Great post, Kate! Anything from Enid Blyton including the Wishing Chair series and the Magic Faraway Tree series. Sorry, my children are still little so can only draw from my own childhood for inspiration at the moment. :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Kate! Yes, Im starting w childhood favourites too :)

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  4. OK, my kids are still little but I am looking forward to reading - the Green Knowe series, A Little Princess, The Little White Horse, and (Australian) the Longtime books.

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    1. Oh I havent heard of some of those - thanks, will check them out! Sound really interesting!

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  5. We read aloud to our kids everyday, but their thirst for literature is beyond what I can keep up with, so we love to listen to audio books together too. Fantastic to listen together in the car, or as background while we we do some repetitive crafts, etc.

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    1. Audio books are fantastic huh? my kids especially love listening to them at bed time! They have memorised huge chunks of text just from listening as they fall asleep - subliminal learning?! lol

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  6. We read aloud every night with our kiddos such a great quiet time before bed. We've done a lot of the ones you suggested some other good ones Magic tree house books, Stuart Little, Anne of green gables, Miss Pigglewiggle (an American one) so many other good ones. We have started doing audio books in the car too great for car rides

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    1. Oh I have heard of these Magic tree house ones! I need to check them out. Thanks! Yes audio books in the car is so great. My kids listen to them every night as they fall asleep too.

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  7. For us it's family time more than an exercise in practising reading. We are big fans of Enid Blyton as well over here and the children love hearing about the famous five having adventures while they are cwtched up together with our own dog at our feet.

    I make it all sound very idyllic, most of the time it's short lived :D

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    1. heehee, love that! even in short doses, time reading together as a family is very precious indeed, huh :)

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  8. These are great, thoughtful reasons! The is definitely a distinction between written and verbal in the way that we learn. Throw in the social factor and there just isn't a good reason to stop reading aloud! We always enjoyed anything written by Roald Dahl. The BFG, The Twits, Charlie and the Glass Elevator, etc. Thanks!

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    1. So true! I think we have to get into some Roald Dahl, it's been many years since I read his books but I know the kids would love them too :)

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  9. When I was a boarding tutor at a large independent school we had 54 girls, mostly teenage. The youngest half dozen were aged 7-11, and I always loved to acquiesce when they begged me to read to them at bedtime. For them it was a really important ritual and a little bit of adult attention just for them, which didn't happen often in a busy boarding school.

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    1. I just love that story, thanks so much for sharing! Clearly you were an awesome tutor, those girls must have simply adored you xx

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  10. I grew up in a family that didn't own a TV, and I have beautiful memories of sitting on the floor with my sister as our parents read to us. The Australian classics were a hit in our family - Blinky Bill, The Magic Pudding and the poems and short stories of Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson. I'm nearly 40 now and we still often read poetry aloud when I visit my parents, usually one of us will read while the other two wash dishes after dinner.

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    1. Oh goodness, just love to hear that, what a wonderful way to share time as a family. I can only hope for the same one day xx PS Love those aussie classics, will add those to the list too!

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  11. I have such happy memories of my Dad reading to me and I'm loving to do the same for my three. I'd add Swallows and Amazons to the list as well as The Seven Year Wonder Book and maybe Paddington - have fun exploring all the new treasures on your list it looks great!

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  12. We've read most of the books on your list. The Wind in the Willows and the Paddington Bear books would be two to add. The longer Graeme Base books are good too. The Treehouse books by Andy Griffiths are lots of fun.

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  13. My Littles are 10 and 12, and we still read aloud together every day. We just finished The Hobbit, which led to so many fantastic discussions that have requested moving on to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy!

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  14. I'm loving the "Your Story" historical fiction books at the moment. Have just finished reading the workhouse one (on Victorian England), the Bloody Tower one (on Tudor England) and An Egyptian Princess (on, funnily enough, Ancient Egypt). Can't wait to read more of them!

    We've also just finished reading the Hobbit to our 6 year old. She was listening to The Yellow Submarine today, and she said that was a song about Lord of the Rings. I asked her why, and she said they are singing "We all believe in the elves of the ring, the elves of the ring, the elves of the ring". LOL!

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  15. Oh, and PS again - I'm loving the Magic Treehouse series. They are awesome!

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  16. We still read to our kids - the oldest is 12, and they love it. We also listen to audio books in the car. As we live in a rural area, we spend a lot of time in the car, and it helps to pass the time, and is also great for the imagination. We're currently up to book 10 of The Ranger's Apprentice series, which we adults enjoy as much as the kids. We've also done all of Narnia, Harry Potter, Winnie The Pooh, Roald Dahl, How To Train Your Dragon, as well as quite a few others.

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i love to hear your thoughts, thanks for leaving your comments! xx