The beauty of reading aloud to our children is that “read-alouds” provide meaningful opportunities for critical thinking and thoughtful reflection on a range of texts and subject matter. And as I lovingly remind the parents of my literacy clients each year, the best way to get children to read on their own initiative and to enjoy reading is to make reading an everyday occurrence in the household. Read-aloud time should be such an ingrained and enjoyable habit that your child should be begging you to not skip it!

Read-alouds are their most potent for young children when there is intentionality behind the quality and variety of literature that we select. Moreover, empowering young children to see themselves as readers, writers and critical thinkers is crucial —whether they are independently decoding the words on a page or are just beginning to interpret the pictures with confidence. As parents and caregivers of children, we must ensure that they have ample opportunities to listen to and reflect upon a broad range of subjects.

Reading aloud daily to children is a research-based and proven way to build “bookworm” habits in them—motivating them to read as an elective hobby and promoting higher-order thinking skills. Hopefully, each of us can fondly recall being read to as children—whether it was every evening before bed, or our teacher’s soothing voice transporting us to another realm in the classroom. When we read aloud to children, we are providing them with an invaluable service—helping them to develop a lifelong love of books and providing them with memorable experiences that will connect you with the child and will last a lifetime.

With jam-packed days, finding moments to enjoy reading together might seem like a luxury. Here are some suggestions to help you seamlessly weave reading into every day:

1) Read as you ride. While this might not fit the traditional model of reading aloud, while you’re driving to school together consider enjoying an audio book together, or having your child reread a familiar book to you.
2) Invite older children to read to younger ones. This is a remarkable way to foster meaningful connections as a family and to support oral reading fluency and build receptive language skills.
3) Maximize waiting time. Instead of sitting idle waiting for appointments together, or a restaurant table to become available, always have a book readily accessible. Pull it out whenever a window of opportunity presents itself.
4) “Ring fence” the last 5-10 minutes of every evening before your child retires for the night. There’s nothing more magical that an extra snuggle and a short story to close out the day. Don’t let anything get in the way of this special time together.
Happy Reading, Friends!

By Chloe Ball, M.Ed, K-3 Reading Specialist