I have cherished memories of being a child, snuggling up to a parent and sitting there, staring at a book as it was read aloud to me. The magic of seeing squiggles on a page, pictures changing and every time the page was turned it was different! It was the start of my reading journey and I’m sure those early positive experiences of being read aloud to, were largely responsible for my life-long love of reading. I still read voraciously and my level of contentment correlates to the size of the ‘must read’ stack on my coffee table.
Why do children of all ages enjoy being read aloud to? I believe it takes them back to that safe place from their early childhood. I think they get caught up in the reader’s enthusiasm for the book and it creates a space where everyone is sharing the same experience, as it is revealed paragraph by paragraph.
I believe the benefits of reading aloud to children of all ages are that, as an adult, you are able to model how you make meaning from the text, how you deal with words you are unfamiliar with, how to reread a passage in order to understand the context in which a word is used. An adult can encourage children to use the reading strategies of questioning, making connections, visualising, predicting, inferring and use these to discuss the themes and messages in a book. Being read to also develops a child’s ability to actively listen.
Other books I have used as a read aloud are Kenneth Grahame’s, The Wind In The Willows; Kate DiCamillo’s, Because of Winn-Dixie; the children’s version of Homer’s, The Odyssey and they loved the gruesome endings to the original folklore by the Brothers Grimm.
The CBCA has wonderful Guides for Parents on how to choose books and read with your child. If you are not always in a position to read aloud at home, then the following websites have videos of book readings: Just Book Read Aloud and Storyline Online [created by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation]. The CBCA also features ReadingTime, which is an excellent website for book reviews, book suggestions, author interviews and other areas of interest to child and adult readers.
Happy reading and please feel free to share your read aloud book suggestions in our comments section.
Grade 5/6 teacher and Vice President of the CBCA Tasmania