A lot of research explores the benefits of reading aloud to children. Jackie French, Mem Fox and Paul Jennings have encouraged parents and teachers alike to embrace the power of books and the magic of reading stories aloud. A study in the US published this year, investigates the massive difference in a child’s vocabulary if they have been read to at home or not. Researchers estimated that “children from literacy-rich homes hear a cumulative 1.4 million words during storybook reading compared to children who are never read to”, and that is only in the five years before kindergarten! (When Children Are Not Read to at Home: The Million Word Gap, March 2019)
Reading aloud is one of the most important things parents and teachers can do with children. Reading aloud builds many important foundational skills, introduces vocabulary, provides a model of fluent, expressive reading and helps children recognise what reading for pleasure is all about (readingrockets.org).
“According to the read aloud guru Jim Trelease, children’s reading levels don’t catch up to their listening level until eighth grade” (The Literature Base, Volume 30, Issue 1, February 2019). Reading aloud is an essential part of children’s development, and a part that is often neglected once children become more independent readers.
Through books and being read to, children develop an awareness of people and situations outside their own experiences. The more children understand, the more they can empathise, and from empathy grows acceptance. “Today’s teenagers are the most distracted generation in history. Glued to one screen or another, they flit from one burst of information to the next in the swipe of a finger. Yet there is substantial evidence that we don’t retain information as well when we read it on a screen. So parents and teachers have a huge role in helping kids turn off the screen and turn to a book. The best place to start is to begin reading aloud to them” (The Literature Base, Volume 30, Issue 1, February 2019).
As Kate DiCamillo writes in “On the Magic of Reading Aloud”, we humans long not just for a story or the flow of language, but for the connection that comes when words are read aloud. When people talk about the importance of reading aloud, they almost always mean an adult reading to the child. We forget about the surly adolescent and the confused young adult and the weary middle-aged and the lonely old. We need it too!
Staff in both the Miller Library and the Junior School Library are eager to assist families in finding suitable read aloud titles to share.
Author in Residence – Sally Heinrich
This week the year four classes welcomed author and illustrator in residence Sally Heinrich to the Junior School. Sally shared the creative process she uses to create her books and illustrations. She absolutely amazed and delighted boys with her lino prints for her book titled ‘One Step at a Time’.
Sue Dansie and Alison Winter