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The link below is to an article that takes a look at how to read aloud to children.
For book lovers, reading to their children may seem obvious. Why would they not want to pass on their love of literature? However, researchers have shown there are more benefits for both adult and child that come with reading than just building a bond – particularly when it comes to education.
A lot of research has been done into the effects of children engaging with literacy related activities at home. Much of this focuses on the early years, and how the literacy environment helps to develop emergent literacy skills. Shared book reading early on stimulates language and reading development, for example.
But the home literacy environment doesn’t stop being important once children have learnt to read. The opportunities that a child has to read at the home, and parental beliefs and behaviours, continue to impact on children’s reading throughout the school years. Here are just five ways that reading with your child can help their general education.
1. It opens up new worlds
Reading together as a family can instil a love of books from an early age. By taking the time to turn the pages together, adults can help children see that reading is something to enjoy and not a chore. Some schoolchildren read because they like it but others do it because they will be rewarded – with stickers in a school reading diary for example. Those children who read because they enjoy it read more books, and read more widely too. So giving your child a love of books helps expand their horizons.
2. It can build confidence
Children judge their own ability to read from observing their classroom peers, and from conversations with parents and teachers. When sharing a book, and giving positive feedback, parents can help children develop what is known as self-efficacy – a perceived ability to complete the specific activity at hand. Self-efficacy has been shown to be important for word reading. Children who think they cannot read will be less inclined to try, but by using targeted praise while reading together, parents can help children develop belief in their own skills.
3. It can build positive reading attitudes
Studies have shown that the more opportunities a child has to engage with literacy based activities at home, the more positive their reading attitudes tend to be. Children are more likely to read in their leisure time if there is another member of the family that reads, creating a reading community the child feels they belong to. Parental beliefs and actions are related to children’s own motivations to read, though of course it is likely that this relationship is bidirectional –- parents are more likely to suggest reading activities if they know that their child has enjoyed them in the past.
4. It expands their language
When reading a book together, children are exposed to a wide range of language. In the early stages of literacy development this is extremely important. Good language development is the foundation to literacy development after all, and increased language exposure is one of the fundamental benefits of shared book reading.
Shared book reading early on can have a long-term benefit by increasing vocabulary skills. And if they encounter a word they don’t understand, they have a grown up on hand to explain it to them in a way that makes sense to them. When children are taught to read while sharing a book, it can improve alphabet knowledge, decoding skills, spelling, and other book-related knowledge (such as how to actually read a book). Doing something as simple as sounding out the letters of a word they do not understand can vastly improve a child’s skills.
5. It can help their speech and language awareness
Formal shared reading can also involve the use of intonation, rhythm and pauses to model what is known as prosody. This is not a skill that is directly taught, but by simply pausing when needed or changing the tone of your voice can help children develop fluency when reading aloud. This is one of the reasons that shared book reading is not just for pre-schoolers. Demonstrating what is involved in reading complex text aloud fluently is very valuable for children of all ages.
You don’t need a lot of money, or even hours of spare time to read with children. Even small efforts can have big benefits. Nor does it have to be just at bedtime. Sharing a book, a magazine or a comic can take place any time of the day.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun. Interest in reading emerges from enjoying it with a parent. If you’re interested and make an effort, it can have a huge impact on a child’s engagement with reading.
Words are powerful, and a rich vocabulary can provide young people with significant advantages. Successful vocabulary development is associated with better vocational, academic and health outcomes.
When parents read books aloud to their children from an early age, this offers notable advantages for children’s vocabulary development. This gives them a broader range of possible word choices.
Research also suggests children who don’t have the opportunity for shared reading are comparatively disadvantaged. If we want our children to be able to draw on a rich vocabulary to express themselves clearly, we need to read to them. Developing a child’s vocabulary is a valuable investment in their future.
Benefits of reading aloud
In the very early years, spoken vocabularies have been associated with higher achievement in reading and maths, and better ability to regulate behaviour. Vocabulary is also linked to success in reading comprehension and related word recognition skills.
Much of a child’s vocabulary is acquired through daily conversations. Shared reading aloud can provide a valuable additional source of new words children can use to power their expression. Research suggests the text of picture books offers access to more diverse vocabulary than child-directed conversations.
At some point, most of us have experienced the frustration of searching for an elusive word that is essential to clearly communicate an idea or a need. When children speak or write, they draw on their vocabulary to make word selections that will optimise the clarity and accuracy of their expression.
Beyond vocabulary, reading aloud offers numerous additional benefits for children. Reading aloud may support students to develop sustained attention, strong listening skills, and enhanced cognitive development.
Recent research also suggests children who are read to from an early age may be less likely to experience hyperactivity. Children who are at risk of reading difficulties may particularly benefit from being read to. Children who are learning English as an additional language may experience better reading comprehension when they are read to in English.
Reading aloud with your child is also valuable parent-child time. It can strengthen the parent-child relationship and foster reading engagement, which is essential if we want our children to enjoy the benefits of being a life-long reader.
How can I optimise vocabulary growth for my child?
Vocabulary development can be improved through explicit teaching techniques such as providing definitions for new words. For example, while reading to your child, when you encounter a new word you may pause and ask the child what they think it means.
If they’re unsure, you can then read a little further along so the word is encountered in a context that can give valuable clues about meaning. If the meaning is still unclear, you can provide a definition for your child so you can move on.
A recent study found approaches that involve pointing, providing definitions, and asking some questions as you read together can be good for vocabulary building.
Recent research found nearly identical gains in vocabulary where children were read to either using explicit techniques (such as pointing and giving definitions) or a more engaging storytelling approach. In the storytelling approach, the adult reading to the child added contextual information, which made the child more interested and engaged in the story.
Children will also benefit from hearing the same story a number of times. It’s also a good idea to use some of the new language in subsequent conversation if possible. This can increase exposure and strengthen retention of new words.
What if I don’t have a book?
We may not always have a book at hand. In these cases, you can draw on your creativity and tell a story, which can also benefit vocabulary.
While there is limited research in this area, one study compared telling a child a story or reading them a story with a child reading silently to themselves. The study found all three groups of children learned new words. But telling a story and reading a story to a child offered superior gains in vocabulary.
Beating the barriers
Research suggests that children may be aware of the benefits of listening to books read aloud. This awareness can be a source of regret for the child when reading aloud at home ends, but they still enjoy shared reading. Children may continue to enjoy and benefit from being read to beyond the early years. You should keep reading with your children as long as they let you.
By far, the biggest barrier raised by parents to reading aloud to their children was the formidable barrier of time. If reading aloud becomes a routine part of family life, like dinner and bedtime, this barrier may be overcome as the practice becomes an everyday event.
Due to diverse issues faced in homes and families, not all parents will be able to read their child a book, or tell them a story. This is why it’s still so important for schools to provide opportunities for students to regularly listen to engaging and culturally diverse books.
But reading aloud is not a typical daily classroom practice. We should increase the number of opportunities children have to hear stories both at home and in schools so children can experience the many benefits of a rich and varied vocabulary.
The link below is to an article that takes a look at how to introduce children to books and getting them into reading.
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