Reading aloud is one of my absolute favorite things to do with my children. From board books to novels, nursery rhymes, and poetry, I’m pretty sure that it’s one of their favorite things, too.
Over the last few years, it’s been really exciting to see more and more parents singing the praises of reading aloud and the various benefits it provides. We know that the academic benefits are powerful and oh so important to ensuring the future success of our children.
We also now know that reading aloud to older children is important too — it continues to build vocabulary and attention spans as well as exposes children to the more sophisticated language patterns that help them become better writers and communicators as they grow.
But what if I told you that those academic benefits of reading aloud are really just the tip of the iceberg? That there are so many more (and maybe even better!) reasons to be reading aloud to your children?
The “Extra” Benefits of Reading Aloud to Our Children
While those are all worthy and important reasons to read to our children, I’ve also noticed some other, not-so-obvious benefits that reading aloud has brought to our family.
It turns out that reading aloud is more than just a powerful academic tool. It’s also a beneficial parenting tool that has greatly shaped my children, our family, and even myself.
As a homeschooling mom to three young children, there is no doubt that I spend a LOT of time with my kids. All day, every day, pretty much.
But how much of that time is quality time? A lot of my time with my kids is taken up in tutoring them in skills (and *cough* nagging them to clean up), and I doubt that practicing math facts and going over phonics lessons are ever going to make it very high on their list of favorite things to do with mom.
I am pretty confident, however, that they will remember the numerous stories we’ve shared and all the adventures we’ve gone on through the pages of the books we read together.
This is a big one! Reading aloud has given my children (and me!) so many extra snuggles over the years as we cozy up on the couch with books.
But it’s not just the physical closeness — there is also a wonderful bond that we create over the stories that we have enjoyed together. It’s as though the narratives in our books and the narrative of our lives together become a part of each other.
Every parent has heard their fair share of “I’m booooored” over the years. We spend so much time trying to think up quality activities to engage our children — crafts, sports, games.
And we often resort to the not-so-quality variety of entertainment in order to hear a little less whining about boredom (thank you, Netflix!).
I don’t know about you, but I know that I sometimes forget that I have a great, high-quality (and low prep!) family activity right at my fingertips. Reading is a great entertainment option for families!
And don’t forget that you can “cheat” with reading aloud by using audiobooks! Cranky kids? Grab one of these hands-on activities to keep their hands busy while they listen and pop on an audiobook!
Reading aloud to my children has allowed me to maintain influence in their reading choices well past the age where they can read independently.
Even if I allowed my children free range in their book selections, as long as I’m choosing our read-alouds, I continue to have input on the books they are consuming. By selecting excellent books, I’m ensuring that my kids are being exposed to great stories and quality literature and am hopefully training their appetites to crave better choices.
This has worked wonders for us over the years! So many times, I’ve seen my oldest child put aside books that I hadn’t outright stopped her from reading (but wasn’t thrilled that she had chosen). She’s being brought up on the good stuff, and Mama’s influence is paying off in the form of the development of her own good taste.
Discussion & Communication
Reading with our kids as they grow is probably the best thing we can do to keep those lines of communication open. Reading sparks conversation, and who better to talk over the issues and ideas communicated in a book than the people whom you read it with?
I’m constantly amazed by the variety of topics that our current read-alouds have raised in discussion. Everything from “what do you think is going to happen next?” to “was such-and-such character wrong to have done what they did?”. And it’s not just Mama asking the questions, either. Exploring books with my children has opened up our conversations to ideas I’m not sure we would have encountered otherwise.
Benefits for Mom!
Some of the greatest benefits of reading aloud to my children over the years have been to me! Isn’t that just the way it is with homeschooling too? We spend so much time and energy teaching, training, and pouring into our children’s lives, only to find that we have gained so much ourselves in the process!
I love kid lit! While reading with my children, I get to read all the wonderful books that I’m “too old for”! I get to exercise my own stagnating imagination by traveling in time and space, visiting other worlds, and getting to know both real and imagined people (or creatures!).
I’ve also improved my own spoken and written language skills through reading aloud. My vocabulary has definitely improved, and I bet if I ever find myself in any kind of public speaking role, I’ll find that my oratory skills have greatly benefited from the hundreds of hours I’ve put into reading aloud to my children.
The academic benefits of reading aloud may very well have been what motivated me to begin this read-aloud culture in my home, but it’s all of these not-so-obvious bonuses that keep me going and make it oh-so-worth-it in the end.
Check out my list of Snowy Books for Snowy Days for winter reading inspiration, grab some hot cocoa, and snuggle up this winter with your children and a nice stack of books!