Last week was Read Across America week, and I and many other authors participated by reading to kids all around the world. World Read Aloud Day was March 5 — for me, the day was filled with virtual visits to classrooms from Maine to California. I got a bonus day of reading on SNORING BEAUTY’s book birthday (March 4). By the time I was done, I had connected with over 40 different classrooms. It was AWESOME!
In honor of Read Across America, I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone why reading aloud to kids is so important.
1. Reading aloud is one of the best ways to build literacy skills. Children can listen to and comprehend books that are much harder than the ones they can read themselves. By hearing more complicated stories, plots, and concepts, they build their vocabulary and increase their interest in books and reading.
2. Taking time to read together demonstrates how you feel about reading. Children learn from the adults in their lives. They model their own behavior on what they see. If you want your child or your students to value reading, show them that you make time to read. If you take it a step farther and not only block out time in your busy day to read but to read to them you will show them in your actions how important reading is. That is a lesson that will stay with them.
By the way, for all you math geeks (like me!) just 15 minutes of reading to your kids each day means that over the course of the year you will spend an extra 91 hours, 15 minutes with them.
3. It forms connections. There are many difficult topics that we have to discuss with children today. As a parent, it can be awkward to launch into some of these conversations. But when you do it in the context of a book or a story that you are sharing, it opens up the lines of communication. As a bonus, it teaches children that when they need guidance in life, they can turn to books.
4. It makes kids smarter. We already talked about literacy skills. But reading aloud lets you introduce your child to all sorts of topics that he or she may not run into in a school curriculum for years. One of my favorite things to do with my own children is share interesting news articles with them. We’ve talked about everything from impressionist art exhibits, to giant squids, to baseball history, to (most recently) the possibility that there may be a terrible conflict with goats in our future. (It turns out the goat war is unlikely.) The result is my kids are not only able to converse on a wide variety of topics, they are interested in cool things, too.
5. It’s just fun. In my life as an author, I may never win huge awards or make tons of money. But I’ve had the great privilege of connecting with hundreds of kids and getting them excited about books. If that doesn’t make you happy…well, you need to look up the word ‘happiness’ again.