“One of the greatest gifts adults can give – to their offspring and to their society – is to read to children.” – Carl Sagan
Today marks World Read Aloud Day, which is about celebrating the power of words, especially those words that we share from one person to another.
Sharing stories often begins with reading aloud. Reading aloud provides a number of opportunities and benefits for children of all ages, from strengthening their vocabulary to increasing their attention span.
Here are seven important benefits of reading aloud with children:
1. Develops stronger vocabulary. Children acquire language primarily through listening. Reading aloud lets children regularly hear new words in new contexts, which builds their vocabulary and helps them develop a stronger awareness of the communicative possibilities of language.
2. Builds connections between the spoken and written word. When children hear words read aloud, they begin seeing how printed words are closely connected to spoken words. This helps them recognise the difference between the arrangement of spoken language and printed text.
3. Provides enjoyment. Children generally enjoy being read to, which encourages them to see and experience reading as something fun and positive. Reading aloud makes them more likely to become interested in learning to read, which is likely to then spark a lifelong love of reading.
4. Increases attention span. Unlike watching television, reading or being read to promotes a slower unfolding of events and ideas. This encourages children to listen, pay attention and concentrate, which after a while can increase their overall attention span.
5. Strengthens cognition. A well written book exposes children to sophisticated language, which can strengthen their cognitive abilities. When children are regularly exposed to the sophisticated language of quality literature, they learn how to apply their cognitive abilities to understand the text.
6. Provides a safe way of exploring strong emotions. Reading a story aloud that explores particular emotions helps some children to accept their own feelings and understand how others feel. By reading aloud together, stories can help children feel more comfortable discussing their emotions with others.
7. Promotes bonding. Reading aloud with children provides benefits for adults too. The quality time spent together promotes bonding and strengthens relationships, making it easier for children to develop their social, communication and interpersonal skills.
World Read Aloud Day is an excellent time to begin reading aloud with your child if you don’t already. For some helpful tips, read our previous blog post on 10 Reading Aloud Dos and Don’ts.