Reading is a vital skill for children to learn. But once children reach the age when they are able to read on their own, many parents believe their work is done. Once your child knows how to read, you might wonder, “Why continue to read to them? Won’t that stunt their progress if they don’t have to do it themselves?”
I get the thought process, but there’s a lot of benefits your now-reader can get out of you continuing still sharing storytime with him in addition to reading on his own at times. The following are a few reasons why you should read to your older child.
5 Reasons to Read to Your Older Child
My kids are now 15 and 8 years old and we still all get together for storytime several nights a week. We lay in my bed, my son usually picks a book from his huge collection, and we take turns reading. It’s a special time that we all enjoy, even though they’re both old enough to read on their own. My 15-year-old enjoys reading to her little brother. My 8-year-old likes taking a break from reading on his own. I love seeing my kids enjoy books!
Here are some reasons to read to your older child or children far beyond the time they become independent readers:
Reading together is a special bonding time.
Reading together doesn’t have to be all about learning. We use our reading time as quality bonding time. We always end up talking about the book and laughing over silly parts.
Sitting down with your child and a book is an opportunity to connect and spend time together that otherwise might be solitary for the both of you. Laughing over humor and exclaiming over action and discussing characters and scenes are perfect ways for parent and child interact in the midst of a busy day.Sitting down with your child and a book is an opportunity to connect and spend time together that otherwise might be solitary for the both of you. Reading with your older child creates the perfect bonding moment in a busy day. Click To Tweet
Reading together stimulates interest.
As adults, parents are able to choose a wider variety of reading material that might intimidate a young reader, either because it’s a genre they aren’t familiar with or because the reading level is higher than they are comfortable tackling. Parents can choose new reading material tailored to increase interest in their youngster.
I usually encourage my son to pick a book he hasn’t read in a while or one that he refuses to read on his own. He’s conservative when he picks books for solo reading because he doesn’t have a lot of reading confidence yet as a fairly new reader. But when I choose one of those books for us to start reading together, he’s completely fine with it. He usually even volunteers to read a page or two by himself during our read-aloud!
Reading together reinforces what they learn.
If your child struggles with reading comprehension, your reading time has the power to improve it. Some kiddos struggle with concepts in a book, especially if they’re somewhat abstract. But reading together gives you the chance to talk about what’s going on as you read to reinforce your child’s understanding.
For instance, you might pause after each page or every couple of pages to talk about the characters and story. Ask questions like, “This character, Mary – do you remember who she’s related to? Why is she an important character?” or “It seems like Sam is feeling sad. I wonder why?” Questions like this trigger deeper thinking in your child and can improve his retention skills during reading.
Reading together improves vocabulary.
The more children hear words and phrases, the easier it is for them to remember and use those words. Plus, when parents read books at a higher level, new words are undoubtedly introduced and absorbed by young readers.
Reading together is the perfect opportunity, then, to build your child’s vocabulary. Each read-aloud can be a quick, teachable moment. Have your child choose one word he doesn’t know the meaning of and look it up together in a dictionary or on the internet. He’ll now know the meaning, understand what it means in the story, and can build it into his own vocabulary.The more children hear words and phrases, the easier it is for them to remember and use those words, turning reading time into a teachable moment. Click To Tweet
Reading together improves overall reading skills.
Listening to adults read, children absorb not just the words but how they sound, the cadence of the story, where to pause or stop, which words form phrases, etc. Reading together works to improve your child’s reading skills in so many ways, especially when they become engaged with the story during your read-aloud.
Remember to keep things fun and interesting for your child. It helps to have him join in as much as possible by talking about the story, reading some pages by himself, and allowing him to ask questions to boost his understanding.
The more parents encourage their children to read, the better off their young readers will be. As a child’s first and best teacher, one of the best ways to prepare him to become a lover of books is to display that enthusiasm for reading, too. Your interest in reading will likely spill over to your child, encouraging him to keep working hard and enjoying reading with you and on his own.
What do you and your kids do for family storytime? Do you have any unique traditions you enjoy together? I’d love to hear them – leave a comment down below!
Amy is a mom of two, freelance writer, and blog manager who works with family-focused businesses to improve their content strategies. You can find her published work on Reader’s Digest Online, MSN, Niche, Frugal For Less, and other lifestyle publications.