Three Benefits of Reading to Older Children

Pretty much from the minute she came out of my belly, my husband and I read to our daughter. All through the infant and toddler years, books were everywhere. My girl had 3 bookshelves full of books all to herself long before preschool. Now she is nine and a reading dynamo. She reads at a 7th grade level and has read over 300 books in each of the past 2 summers. So you’d think she doesn’t need us to read to her anymore, right?

Wrong.

Reading aloud to your child at any age is still a bonding experience. Sharing the story, living it together, is a joint adventure. It’s a memory you make. It’s also a good teaching tool. The vocabulary building is a major benefit. Teaching the child how to properly pronounce words they’ve only read is a secondary benefit. For example, teaching my daughter that “yacht” was not pronounced “yack-et.” Haven’t we all been there, wanting to use a word in conversation but not having any idea how it’s said?

Another good reason to read with your older child is because it sparks conversations about deeper issues. We talk about why people behave the way they do in the story. We discuss why people in the story feel the way they do, and maybe how she would feel in a similar situation. Sometimes it will open a conversation about something that happened to her at school. It is a good way for a child to explore confusing or intimidating social situations from the safety of their home and their parents’ arms.

But one of the main reasons I like reading aloud to my older child is a sneaky one. My daughter loves to read, but she is resistant to trying new authors or series. I have been trying to get her to read Misty of Chincoteague for months, because I was sure she would like it. No dice. So on our President’s Day holiday, she asked me to read to her and I brought out Misty. I read to her for an hour and a half (pretty near lost my voice). She kept interrupting with questions about what was going to happen, paid close attention to everything, exclaimed and reacted in all the right places. And once I stopped reading it (about 3/4 of the way through), she took it with her and finished it by the next morning. And now she’s reading the sequel, Stormy, Misty’s Foal.

Success.

This is not the first time I have read her into a new series. I did it with the Little House books, too. My daughter is an anxious child, she dislikes going out of her comfort zone. So me reading a new book or author to her allows her to feel safe while exploring new works—and more often than not she then jumps in with both feet. So reading aloud to your older child is a great way to pique their interest in new books, series, and authors.

I will gladly read aloud to my daughter until she no longer wants me to. And I will continue to read “with” her by reading books she has to read for school. I want the book conversations to continue. I want the shared experience to continue. I want the bond to continue.

And then, someday, perhaps she will read to me when my eyesight is failing, and the circle will be complete.

 

 

Comments

  1. Carolee Pastorius says:

    I always love it when you write about your relationship with YO… keep up the great work!

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