Read Aloud West Virginia
P.O. Box 1784
Charleston, WV 25326
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Just For Parents
What happens when you read to children?
It hardly seems possible that something so low-tech, so enjoyable, could actually boost children's grades, test scores and lifetime achievement. But it does. When you simply enjoy books with the children in your life, a lot of things happen:
1. Children learn new words and ideas.
|Without even realizing it, children of any age absorb great new words and more understanding of the world around them. Then, when they read on their own, whether for school or for fun, children recognize words they encounter, and the text has meaning. That's why we say it is important to start reading to children from birth.||
Pam Miller of Jefferson County, W.Va., reads to her 12-day-old grandson Alex, May, 2012. (Photo courtesy of Pam Miller)
TIP: Prolong conversations with children, even small ones. Engage them in describing what they see or what they have done in a day. Books are great for this.
Reading is more than sounding out words and pronouncing them quickly, like items on a shopping list. The words in each sentence relate to all the others to produce meaning and sensation. Some children – even those who can look at tough new words and pronounce them correctly – do not readily draw meaning from the text. You see this when children know all the words in a story, and they're paying attention, but they don't get the joke, or they don't sense when the end of a story is near. Children who regularly listen to stories they enjoy, tend to develop good reading comprehension.
3. You share your passion with children.We talk about reading stories, and that often means fiction – novels, chapter books, many picture books. But any kind of reading that you can enjoy with a child will work. If you love basketball or history or travel, non-fiction (true) books may be your best friend. Magazine or newspasper articles and biographies that you enjoyed are all good choices to share. Read what interests you and the child. Children's author Jon Scieszka (rhymes with fresca) has observed that boys in particular respond to funny books, disgusting imagery and stories about real people.
Parents find that if they make time for just 20 minutes of read aloud
most days of the week, children grow to like it so much they ask for
more. Then they ask to read the book on their own, or they want to look
for other books. Children who read for fun do better in school and have
higher test scores than children who do not read for pleasure. They also
write better, have better vocabularies, know grammar, spell better,
read faster, know more about literature, know more about science and
social studies, have more cultural literacy, have more practical
knowledge, get better grades in writing classes and have less anxiety
about writing. Students who read regularly also do better on the Test of
English as a Foreign Language.
TIP: Make a regular trip to your public library to check out and return books. It can be every two weeks or more frequently, but it will pay off.
RESEARCH: The National Assessment for Educational Progress surveyed students and found higher test scores were associated with children who reported reading for pleasure more frequently. "The Power of Reading" by Stephen D. Krashen documents other benefits of reading aloud with children.
Jamie Gaucher, deputy director of the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, reads to his 3-year-old daughter Clarin after returning from a business trip to Texas. He brought her a cowgirl hat and the book Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett.
(Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Gaucher)
5. You strengthen your relationship with children.
While sharing stories, even funny or silly stories, sometimes children raise questions. These questions can lead to discussions of right and wrong, sportsmanship, courtesy, friendship, discrimination or other weighty subjects. Children – even older children – naturally look to parents and then to other adults around them for their opinions and judgment. It may not be obvious in the moment, but reading aloud regularly creates opportunities for parents to stay informed and be influential in a child's life.
7. You give yourself a welcome interlude in the day.
Reading has been shown to cause relaxation and may help you fall asleep. Older people who continue to read show less memory loss and suffer fewer effects of dementia. When adults make time to read to children for the children's benefit, adults often discover that they themselves feel richer and stimulated by the experience, and they miss it when their reading time is interrupted.
Do you have a photo of your family or group that demonstrates the power of reading?
Send it to us, along with a few details about the time and place and what the picture shows. We would love to share it and help spread the word. Thank you!
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