Even though my son is now an adult with children of his own, I still have the most enjoyable memories of the time we spent together reading aloud. This is a wonderful activity that only requires a book and your attention. No waiting in line, no big monetary expenditure or long car rides. In fact – you don't even have to get dressed if you don't want to!
Time spent with your child reading together provides so much, both emotionally and intellectually. Having your complete attention and the pleasure of spending time together sharing this experience is priceless and not forever. Eventually children learn to read on their own. Of course I don't expect my adult son to want me to read aloud to him anymore, but the good news is that my grandchildren love it so I have the pleasure of that wonderful experience again.
There are many long-term benefits associated with reading aloud to your child:
Your child may learn to read better, think better, use their imagination and become a lifelong reader. The more adults read aloud to children, the larger their vocabulary will become and the more curious and interested they will be about the world within and around them.
Reading aloud encourages children to truly wonder about people and places beyond their own experiences.
Reading aloud introduces the language of literature – this language is more descriptive, fluid, and grammatically more correct than language heard in daily conversations, from television, and other electronic communications. I especially like that book characters tend to converse with each other in complete sentences.
Because most of us don't become good at something we don't enjoy doing, reading and book experiences should be positive, engaging, and enjoyable.
So... No multi-tasking during this precious reading time together!
Reading to very young children also has great value.
When you read, your child hears your voice with many expressive sounds and emotions, which engages their social and emotional development. Reading provides an opportunity for your baby to look, point, touch, and engage with you. It improves their language skills by allowing them to imitate sounds, recognize pictures, and learn words. Most importantly – it just feels so nice to share those nurturing moments.
There was a time before television when families sat together in the evenings and read books aloud to each other. This was not just for the benefit of small children -- it provided enjoyment and entertainment for the whole family. How different it must have been to hear a descriptive story through the voice of someone close to you and be free to create all the images of that story in your own imagination.
Perhaps we could try this ancient tradition out just one evening a week (or maybe a month if you want to ease into it). No television or electronics – pick a book that appeals to all age groups maybe one of the classics such as The Secret Garden, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, or Harry Potter (in my mind it's a classic). Take turns reading, make some fun snacks, talk about the characters and enjoy each other.