The importance of reading aloud to children
24 May, 2018
In the month just passed, (April 2018), Expect-A-Star held its second professional development workshop for the year, focussing on “Reading stories aloud to children”. The workshop’s aim was to enable casual educators to engage with one-another by engaging in activities, as well as providing a session that was interactive.
Following on from this workshop this article stresses the importance of reading stories to children, rather than how to, which was the focus of the workshop.
Why should we read stories aloud to children? Well the answer is in the statistics:
- Research published by University of Melbourne in 2012 states that the frequency of reading to children at a young age has a direct causal effect on their schooling outcomes regardless of their family background and home environment.
- Reading to children at ages 4 to 5 years every day has a significant positive effect on their reading skills and cognitive skills later in life.
- Reading to children ages 3 to 5 days per week (compared to 2 or less) has the same effect on the child’s reading skills at ages 4 to 5 years as being six months older.
- Reading to children 6 to 7 days per week has the same effect as being almost 12 months older.
- Children read to more frequently at ages 4 to 5 years achieve higher scores on the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests for both Reading and Numeracy in Year 3.
(Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Victoria, 2012)
Why is reading aloud so effective at building literacy? Why not just talk?
Reading to children introduces them to written word and enables children to start to become familiar with letters and words at a young age. The vocabulary that we use as an adult can be limited and books tend to use more complex, richer language and vocabulary and are more effective at building literacy in children. Reading story books with pictures are more likely to use a word that is not one of the most commonly heard words, than a parent-child conversation. This is especially important for a child who has parents who speak English as second language.
Reading to children is a positive interaction between the parent/educator and child, and a great way to engage and entertain and encourages imagination and curiosity. It creates that time to bond with one another and ultimately helps children cope in times of stress or anxiety.
Overall Reading aloud allows written text and knowledge to be presented as a valuable source of learning and children who learn to value books at a young age tend to be more motivated and enthusiastic about reading throughout the rest of their lives.
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. 2012. Reading to Young Children: A Head-Start in Life. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/documents/about/research/readtoyoungchild.pdf. [Accessed 15 April 2018].