Does Reading Aloud Help Kids Love Reading?

More than 30 years ago, journalist Jim Trelease made a discovery: kids who read for pleasure were for the most part ones who had been read to on a daily basis. This discovery lead to his writing what is considered a 'ground-breaking' book and now, three decades later, many reading organizations, teachers and authors are all in agreement with Trelease. But despite the evidence, are enough kids being read to?

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Many Parents Not Reaching Out

Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit literacy organization, promotes the importance of reading aloud. On its website, the organization calls reading to children the 'single most effective thing parents can do to help prepare their children to succeed in school.'

The American Academy of Pediatrics 'strongly recommends' that parents read aloud to children, a practice they should start in their child's infancy. The group adds, 'Reading stimulates the development of the brain (and) language...' Language development is believed to be a 'strong predictor' in academic success.

But Reach Out and Read reports that less than half of children under the age of five are receiving this attention. This fact is made more distressing when one realizes that it takes little time and effort to follow the advice of so many experts and respected organizations. In many cases, all it would take would be to turn the TV off for an hour or so!

Reading Aloud is Fun(damental)

So why is so much emphasis put on reading aloud to children? Probably because the positive effects are overwhelming. The practice helps not only language and cognitive development, but it can improve memory and enhance curiosity. It is also believed to build motivation, develop listening skills and increase attention spans.

Does it help kids love reading? The evidence seems to support this. Reading aloud has been shown to help children appreciate books and could lead to strong reading habits later in life. Susan Marx, co-author of Help Me Get Ready to Read: The Practical Guide For Reading Aloud to Children During Their First Five Years, told The Huffington Post in November that the point of reading to children 'requires fostering self esteem and feelings of confidence and competence.'

And just how does one not grow to love what makes them feel that way?

Never Too Old

While it may seem that most of the focus on reading aloud is with children under the age of five, parents are encouraged to keep reading to children as they get older. Older children can be engaged in conversation about the story; parents can ask questions and even ask children to draw pictures about what has been read.

Eventually, older children can be encouraged to do the reading aloud to the rest of the family. This will not only further develop verbal skills, it can help add to the joy of reading. And reading aloud for older children does not have to stop in the home. Programs in Indiana and Virginia, for instance, are pushing for librarians and teachers to read aloud to middle school students.

So if you're not doing so, grab your child and start reading aloud. You might even start with this article!

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