Read, read, read… It is the mantra of most homeschool families. We swoon at sentiments so beautifully described above. But what are those “riches” so eloquently referred to in this poem? We know that one of the best gifts we can give our children is shared experiences with books. But why?
The benefits are numerous and profound. Reading aloud—EVERY.SINGLE.DAY—is so important because it…
PROMOTES RELATIONAL INTIMACY
There is something so special and intimate about reading together. When tempers are short and we are on edge with one another, I frequently turn to reading aloud. It has a wonderful calming effect and gets us to a place where we can address heart matters.
FEEDS THE IMAGINATION
The imagination is a powerful tool in the learning process. Reading aloud feeds and nurtures this as everyone is transported from the couch into the story at hand.
INCREASES ATTENTION SPANS
Drawing them into the story helps to focus their attention for increasing lengths of time. This not only helps with reading, but with many other areas of their lives. This can be especially important for those really active children. Additionally, I’ve found that busy hands make for focused minds. As such, I’ll often give my boys play dough, pipe cleaners, wiki sticks or paper to doodle on during some of our read-aloud times.
CULTIVATES AN INTEREST IN BOOKS
There is something magical about sharing the joy of reading by communicating pleasure in the story. This goes a long way in growing an interest in books.
DEVELOPS A TASTE FOR A VARIETY OF GOOD LITERATURE
As parents, we have a powerful opportunity to shape their taste for good books and a variety of different kinds of books. With older children, this is crucial when introducing them to literature that they aren’t naturally drawn towards.
BUILDS PHONEMIC AWARENESS
Reading builds phonemic awareness and an understanding of the general cadence of our language. Phonemic awareness is simply being aware of how sounds combine to make words. This is both an important precursor and ongoing strengthener of reading skills. Reading to our children introduces them to words and draws them into listening how they are put together.
Reading aloud is one of the most powerful ways to build our children’s vocabulary. The size of a child’s vocabulary when they start formal academics is the single greatest predictor of school success or failure,1 because it enables them to understand more of what is being taught.
Once they begin reading, personal vocabulary either feeds or frustrates comprehension. That leg-up in vocabulary will keep them at an advantage as material grows increasingly more complicated.
Even as kids get older, research has revealed an increase in vocabulary acquisition by 15-40%.2 It is important to keep reading to our children even after they can read on their own.
Homeschooling provides opportunity to really foster a love of reading. Some of my favorite childhood memories center around our reading adventures during my homeschool years. And now I get to pass that gift on to my own children. No matter what curriculum you use, reading aloud together is a wonderful investment that will pay dividends for years to come by maximizing learning potential and creating memories that you and your children will cherish for years to come.
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Heather Haupt is the homeschooling mother of three knights-in-training and a spunky little princess. Recognizing the brevity of childhood and the power of a parent’s influence, Heather both inspires and equips families toward intentional parenting, pursuing God, and delighting in the adventure of learning. She is the author of Knights-in-Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous and Compassionate Boys and writes at www.heatherhaupt.com.
- Betty Hart and Todd Risley, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children (Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing, 1996).
- Elley, Reading Research Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Spring, 1989), pp. 174-187.