Almost 14 years ago, I started reading everything aloud to my newborn son. He dutifully listened to Emily Dickinson's poems, all the latest adult novels and numerous classics. At the time, I didn’t realize how much reading aloud would shape our family, but I did know that it felt right. Later I read age appropriate books--Sandra Boynton and Dr. Suess with an occasional Walt Whitman or Rudyard Kipling poem thrown in the mix. We graduated to longer books and now I still read aloud to all five of my kids, mostly when they are doing the dishes or cleaning their rooms. One day last fall, I read an entire 200 pages of Because of Mr. Terupt for 3 hours as my kids weeded!
My instincts are correct, according to Jim Trelease, the author of the Read-Aloud Handbook. When I first read it a couple of year ago, I was thrilled to find hundreds of read aloud titles, tips for luring kids away from electronics and into reading, and reasons why reading aloud is essential for all ages. Here are my top 3 reasons for reading aloud to my kids.
3. Bonding: I interviewed my kids about this topic and this was the top reason they liked being read to. This last year I’ve done a record amount of reading aloud since we started our homeschooling journey. We’ve laughed and cried together as we’ve lived the stories of Johnny Tremain, The Westing Game, Mr. Terupt Falls Again and many others. I’ve learned how my kids think about discrimination, abuse, slavery, addiction, bullying, philanthropy, relationships and more because of discussions elicited by reading aloud together.
Learning vocabulary, increasing empathy, and bonding with your children are not the only benefits to reading aloud together. It’s just plain fun!
When asked: “At what age should parents stop reading to their kids?” My children responded with:
“When the kids are 89 or something.” Sammy (5 yrs)
“19?” Sophia (7 yrs)
“NEVER!!!!” Sydney (9 yrs)
“Never!” Naomi (12 yrs)
“Once the kid is an adult and moves out and is reading to their own kids.” James (13 yrs)
Why do you read aloud?
Kirsti Call is a homeschooling mom of five. Her debut picture book, The Raindrop Who Couldn't Fall, came out December 2013. Her family band, Calling Out, plays songs written by her children. She contributes to Writer's Rumpus, and Kids are Writers. If you visit her house, you’ll likely find her reading aloud to her children and anyone else who will listen. You can find out more about her at www.kirsticall.com.
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