I remember vividly when I was about 10 or 11, my father reading The Hobbit aloud to my sister and me. Dad was a physician, and so time with him was precious. Being together listening to him read this wonderful book was something special and I remember those times fondly all these years later. When my own kids were about 7 and 10, my husband and I continued the tradition of having regular read-aloud evenings. We’ve read Peter and the Starcatchers, Harry Potter, and The Hobbit. Our kids were avid readers by that point, but this read-aloud time was different. My husband does great accents, so he did most of the reading, helping us all to get lost in these fantasy worlds with delightful, magical characters. Every night, we were each eager to read more- and we talked a lot about what was going on in the stories.
Most parents read aloud to their children when they are young and unable to read for themselves. Yet reading aloud is a great way to facilitate ongoing comprehension skills, vocabulary development, and listening skills in children of all ages. Mostly, it fosters a love of literature. What great role modeling for children to see their parents and siblings “getting into” a book. However, being read to is not only enjoyable for children. My sister and brother-in-law still read to one another. They find books of mutual interest and read to each other whenever they get a chance. It is a wonderful bonding experience, and gives them topics for consideration and conversation that they wouldn’t normally have in their hectic, everyday lives.
I encourage everyone to find time in their lives to read aloud with their families. Find something that interests you all- comics, the newspaper, picture books, novels- it doesn’t matter. You can also create other family-bonding rituals around this activity: pop popcorn, snuggle on mom and dad’s bed, or everyone have tea. You’ll be encouraging your child’s love of reading while creating long-lasting family memories.