They're Never Too Old for Read-Alouds!

There are many benefits to reading aloud to our children. Reading aloud builds reading, writing, thinking, and listening skills, children have opportunities to learn new words, build background knowledge1, and develop new interests, and reading aloud helps lengthen a child's attention span2. Besides the academic benefits of reading to our children, reading aloud also provides an opportunity for quality family bonding time and creates wonderful lasting memories.

What do you read?

If you're reading to infants and toddlers, snuggle up together with picture books. Goodnight Moon and Make Way for Ducklings are great choices, as both of these books help children learn the sounds that make up the English language. Younger children love books that rhyme, so Mother Goose rhymes and Dr. Suess books are perfect for read-alouds. When children are old enough to pick out books for themselves, let them—even if it means reading the same book for the hundredth time. As your children get older, move on to chapter books and novels.

While children typically transition from picture books to novels as they get older, don't be afraid to read a novel to a younger child (as long as it isn't too complex) or a picture book to a teenager. If it will hold their attention or spark their imagination, whether it's a poem, an informational article, a short story, or a novel, read it! Need help choosing books? Ask your librarian—your best resource ever! You will also find many websites offering book lists on the Web.

If you're going to read something you haven't read before, read it first before you read it to your child. If you discover words significant to the story that your child hasn't learned, you'll be prepared to explain their meanings. Also, if the story includes situations your child may be uncomfortable with, you'll be ready to discuss them as the need arises. Asking questions improves literacy, so make sure your child knows that it's okay to interrupt you to clarify something you have read.

When should you read?

Anytime is a good time to read, provided you'll be free from distractions—in the morning, before school, after lunch, before dinner, at bedtime, and even when your child is upset about something or when your child is sick. You can also incorporate read-alouds into your homeschool curriculum.

If your children have difficulty keeping still, let them do something quietly while you read!

Ready to get started? Thinking about stopping?

It's never too late to start, and children are never too old for read-alouds. Many summer reading programs allow parents to read to young children just learning to read, so the summer is a great time to start a read-aloud routine. Already reading? Great! Don't stop! Seriously. Many parents stop reading to their children once they start reading for themselves, but even teenagers enjoy a good story. You just need to choose selections that interest your listeners!

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  • Published 04 June 2012
  • Updated 09 January 2022

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