Summer is here and school is out, but if your home is one where reading is a habit, learning goes on. Here are some reasons to read aloud to your children this summer no matter how old they are. You might just decide to make it a part of your family’s daily routine for the long haul…
1. Quality Time: I don’t do tea parties, forts, or figurines, but this is something I actually enjoy doing with my kids. I can read the books I never read as a child, or reread the ones I loved and share them. This is a way to make sure you spend some “quality time” with your child each day and have less mommy guilt. And, if Momma enjoys it, it is more likely to happen. It is also a good activity to do when they are nuts or fighting or bored to help them reboot and calm down.
2. Life Lessons: When reading a story together, you have a chance to stop and discuss what is happening, using it as a teaching moment. The books you read can become jumping-off points to discuss issues in your child’s life or things you want to educate them about. It can also be an opportunity to learn from someone else’s mistake or good example.
3. Shared Family Vocabulary: When trying to communicate something, you can say things like, “Remember how so-and-so felt when such-and-such happened in that book? That is how I feel now.” and you will understand each other better.
4. Memories: You are creating good memories of sitting together enjoying the moment, reading and talking. They will look back fondly on those times, and probably try to create this for their own families when the time comes.
5. Modeling a Reading Life: They will see you enjoying books and experience it for themselves as enjoyable when you read aloud to them. They will see what they can do when they are bored because that is what you do when you have some spare time. They will see learning as an enjoyable part of life, and not just something that is forced upon them at school.
6. Improved Writing Skills: By hearing good language in the books, they are increasing their vocabulary, learning proper grammar, and developing a writing style effortlessly.
7. Improved Reading Skills: Since you are reading with them, you can model to them what readers do–stop to think about something, reread to understand something, look back to recall something, look up important words, underline a great quote, make connections to other things, argue with the author, decide when to give up on a book and when to keep going, evaluate the book…
8. Improved Thinking Skills: They are, through their reading and discussions with you, growing their imaginations, ability to empathize with others, and learning how to make judgments and think critically.
9. Knowledge Growth: Of course, when reading a wide variety of books, one will learn a wide variety of things about history, geography, science, religion, ideas, or how to do something. Your child will come to learn how to learn on his own also.
10. Encourage Solo Reading: Since the child has developed better reading skills, he will probably feel comfortable trying to read some books on his own. If he is reluctant to start a new book, you can read aloud the first couple of chapters, get him hooked, and then let him finish on his own. You could also read the first book in a series, let him fall in love, then devour the others on his own. He may also want to reread some of the books you read to him.
You should start today. Find some books you used to love and get a hold of a good “book about books” with some recommended book lists. Honey For a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt is a good one to start with. Reading aloud can become the highlight of your day with your child and is certainly one of the best things a parent can do for their children. We are all so busy and pulled in many directions–this is one thing that doesn’t take long but has many lasting and powerful effects on your child and family life. You won’t regret the time you spend reading with your child.