The benefits of reading to your child

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How to read a story to your child

If you can find the time beforehand, read the read-aloud book to yourself first, so you can think about how you’re going to read it to your child.

On the first reading:

  • Make reading aloud feel like a treat. Make it a special quiet time and cuddle up so you can both see the book.
  • Show curiosity about what you’re going to read: ‘This book looks interesting. It’s about an angry child. I wonder how angry he gets…”
  • Read through the whole story the first time without stopping too much. Let the story weave its own magic.
  • Read with enjoyment. If you’re not enjoying it, your child won’t.
  • Read favourite stories over and over again.

On later readings:

  • Let your child pause, think about and comment on the pictures.
  • If you think your child did not understand something, try to explain: ‘Oh! I think what’s happening here is that…’
  • Chat about the story and pictures: ‘I wonder why she did that?’; ‘Oh no, I hope she’s not going to…’; ‘I wouldn’t have done that, would you?’
  • Link the stories to your own family experiences: ‘This reminds me of when…’
  • Link stories to others that your child knows: ‘Ah! Do you remember the dragon in…? Do you remember what happened to him?’
  • Encourage you child to join in with the bits they know.
  • Avoid asking questions to test what your child remembers.
  • Avoid telling children that reading stories is good for them.

Top 10 Reasons to Read Aloud to Your Child – At Any Age

Regardless of the age of your child, reading aloud is an important ritual, even when your child knows how to read. Here are some of the many reasons why

1) Children understand at a higher level than they can read.

Learners can typically comprehend text that is 2 or more grade levels above their independent reading level2

2) Build vocabulary.

The more words you use, the more words a child knows and can use. Children’s books have been shown to use more unique words than television, movies, or other media. New words encountered in context are easier to define and understand.

3) Improved achievement.

Numerous studies show a direct correlation between reading to a child and academic success. Students who are, read to have a higher aptitude for learning and more positive attitude about school.

4) Develop a love of reading.

Research shows that motivation, interest, and engagement are enhanced when reading aloud. This can improve children’s attitudes about books and foster a love of reading.

5) Help them be better writers.

Linguistic information is best stored in the brain auditory. Children who listen to books being read over many years are more likely to develop competence in written and verbal communication skills.

6) Help us talk about tough issues.

When you have to talk to your child about a difficult topic, books (both fiction and nonfiction) can be useful. For parents, a book can help lessen anxiety; for the child, a book can provide context and make it easier to ask questions.

7) Broadens their horizons.

When children pick their own books, they tend to pick the same type of texts (over and over). Children tend to be more open to new genres and themes when read aloud.

8) Improve decision-making.

When reading with your child, you have the opportunity to discuss topics and ideas that might not come up in the normal course of events. Children’s author Katherine Patterson said, “Books are a dress rehearsal for life.”

9) Bonding time.

Spending time reading with your child is an opportunity to get closer, both physically and emotionally. Even if you don’t snuggle up, just being close to your child to share a book can foster deep bonding.

10) Your child wants you to.

83% of children across all age groups say they love to be read to.