For my ninth birthday, I was given the first three Harry Potter books. I was a little too young to read them myself and understand everything so my mom decided to read them out loud to me. We continued this tradition throughout the entire series (even when I was in high school) and when The Cursed Child came out last month, I read it out loud with my husband.
Why is reading out loud so important? Here are three reasons why:
1. We Understand More
At young ages, children can understand more by hearing a story rather than reading it themselves. A first grader can understand the plot of a book for third graders, but would struggle to sound out a lot of the words. It is also helpful to hear the spacing and flow of sentences and conversation. A child might not remember to pause at that comma or period (and I might not either if I’m reading a really exciting part in my head!) but sometimes hearing that pause changes the meaning of the words.
When I was in high school, I had to read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and complained endlessly that I didn’t enjoy or understand it. My mom took the book from me and read me the chapter I was struggling through and all of a sudden, it was like a light had been turned on in a pitch black room. Simply by changing how the story was experienced, I began to enjoy the classic more.
Many people believe that once a child has learned to read themselves, they no longer need nor want to be read aloud to anymore. There is a very large gap, however, between reading level and listening level.
2. It Teaches Us To Love Reading
Somewhere after elementary school, reading starts to feel like a lot of work. Teachers stop having read aloud time and instead assign papers and quizzes about books. When we read aloud, we get to share in the story and advertise how much fun reading was.
I have always loved reading and spend most of my free time with books though my worst class in high school was English. I just couldn’t bring myself to read the novels that were required reading. It felt like such a chore, so, I’ll admit, I skimmed through the pages and made up stuff to write about.
Thankfully, this was not the case in all of my English classes. One of my teachers read us Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. This one book was separate from the drudge of essays and exams and I absolutely loved it. My entire class did. Students who had found camaraderie in moaning about the required reading were now discussing the characters and plot of the novel. By taking the time to read aloud, our teacher had showed us that reading was, in fact, very enjoyable.
3. It Creates a Shared Experience
When reading aloud, (especially when both people are reading the book for the first time) you have the exact same knowledge and can share insights and predictions without giving anything away. Being able to have this conversation can deepen the understanding of both the reader and the listener.
It can also help to talk about something that might feel too personal otherwise. When reading aloud a book where the characters are facing tough choices, a discussion about the characters and what they should do can help someone who is facing their own tough decisions. Your child (friend, student, etc.) might not be willing to talk about what is bothering them, although they might feel more comfortable talking about it in terms of a character.
Never think you’re too old to be read to!
YouTube Channel: Jade Joddle
Featured image via Read Media