Reading aloud to a parent or quietly to themselves help children strengthen their literacy and improve comprehension. However, parents who take the lead as storytellers and narrators by reading to their children also greatly influence their child’s love of reading.
A survey conducted by Scholastic showed that 87 percent of kids liked or loved read-aloud time with their parents, and the majority of both kids and parents reported that read-aloud time was a special time to spend together. The study also showed that kids loved picking their own books for mom or dad to read aloud–81 percent of 3-5 year-olds choose their own stories.
When parents read aloud, children are able to focus solely on the story and the adventure…without worrying about stumbling on difficult text. For some children, having a parent read aloud allows access to more challenging books with deeper stories. While kids enjoy the bonding experience and the greater range of stories, parents love that reading aloud provides a host of literacy benefits for their children.
In Scholastic’s 2017 Reading Report, a mother to a newborn daughter said that she felt “reading with my child is important because it gives them more exposure to literacy and grammar.” And, according to ReadAloud.org, reading aloud to a child also helps improve their phonics, storytelling, and comprehension skills, while also helping kids develop a love of reading.
While reading aloud to children each night might feel like a time commitment to many parents, most reading advocates say that even reading 15 minutes a day makes all the difference. Carve out 15 minutes right before bed time, which is the best and most popular time for story time. Make nightly story time a regular routine and try to create a fun experience for both parents and children. Here are six tips to creating an enjoyably stress free read-aloud routine:
- Set the time.
Yes, bedtime is the easiest time for parents and kids to unwind with stories. But if after dinner or mornings work better, then create your own unique story time routine. When reading, don’t look at the clock or allow phones or other devices to cause distractions. Turn off the screens and tune into the story and your child.
- Get comfy.
For bed time story time, make sure kids are completely ready for slumber: pajamas on, teeth brushed, etc. Mom or dad should get in jammies, too…or at least some cozy loungewear. Pick a comfortable chair or plop on the couch or on the child’s bed. Wherever you decide to read, just make sure it’s comfortable and free of distractions.
- Give kids first choice.
Let kids choose the books. It doesn’t matter if their selection is above or below their grade level. Allow kids to choose a book that grabs their attention.
- Mix it up.
Alternate between fiction and nonfiction stories. Some kids naturally gravitate towards non-fiction works, especially history or science. Encourage their interests through books. Parents should also use stories to help explain special events or historical days of the year. Read books about Abe Lincoln or George Washington for President’s Day or check out an age-appropriate book on the American Revolution (like “Hamilton”) for Independence Day.
- Ask questions.
During the story, ask kids to make predictions about what they think will happen next. Talk about the character’s actions during the story and how the character might be feeling throughout the book’s plot. By discussing the details of the book, parents can help improve a child’s comprehension of the story.
- Be the narrator and the characters.
A story is much more interesting when the characters come alive. Kids love when their parents create unique voices for characters. It’s OK to be silly and have fun with the story and the characters. Read with feeling and create your interpretation of the characters. Make read aloud time a fun experience for both you and your child.
While most schools encourage children to read independently each night to strengthen reading skills, parents also may help improve literacy by reading aloud to their kids. Most kids love and look forward to read aloud time to parents. Reading time is a special time for both parents and kids, and a 15 minute story time can make all the difference in a child’s interest in books and their future level of literacy.