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Helping your child succeed: Reading aloud to children offers many educational benefits

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) —  I hope everyone is having a great Readathon 2018.

While many children are reading material on their own, parents can spend some quality time with their children and add to their children’s reading enjoyment by reading aloud to them on a daily basis. For decades, teachers and child-development experts have encouraged parents to read aloud to their children on a daily basis because of the many educational benefits it offers. In addition, extensive educational research has confirmed that reading aloud is one of the most important things parents can do for their children’s reading ability, and since reading is the gateway to all other academic areas, reading success is the key to overall academic success.

Educational benefits

Below are some educational benefits of reading books aloud to children:

• Listening to books helps children develop a positive attitude toward books as a source of pleasure and information.

• Being read to helps children develop a positive attitude toward reading by making it a pleasurable experience.

• Reading aloud expands children’s background knowledge, enhances their listening skills, increases their comprehension skills, improves critical thinking and problem solving skills, and sharpens their observation skills.

• Reading aloud stimulates children’s imaginations by providing them with opportunities to view situations from various perspectives, and by learning that events can be seen from different viewpoints.

• Reading aloud increases children’s attention spans so they listen more attentively in school and are able to study for longer periods of time.

• Reading aloud to children fosters their curiosity, enhances their self-confidence and self-esteem, and encourages positive social interaction with other children as well as adults.

• Reading aloud increases children’s vocabulary. Since a child’s listening level is higher than his or her reading level, exposing children to books beyond their reading level through reading aloud expands and enriches their vocabulary.

• Reading aloud helps children absorb great amounts of information about the world and how it works — especially if parents and children discuss what was read.

• Reading aloud to children for as little as 15 minutes a day can help them do better in school.

• Reading aloud provides children with opportunities to view persons not in their immediate environment, such as people from different ethnic backgrounds or social status. And through books, children can travel to foreign places and learn about life in a large city, a farm, the jungle or on a tropical island.

• Reading aloud provides children with opportunities to learn what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behavior for their culture or that of others. By listening to books, they could learn about the need to listen to one’s parents as well as other members of the family, the need to respect the elderly, or how to ask for forgiveness.

• Reading aloud helps children learn empathy for others and see other sides to a story.

A benefit for struggling readers

Reading aloud to children who have reading difficulties is especially important. Listening to others read provides these struggling readers with a model of fluent reading, connects them to the written word, and gives them access to the same interesting and engaging books that fluent readers read on their own. It also exposes them to complex language patterns and rich vocabulary (children’s listening comprehension is on a higher language level than the one on which they can read) that are not part of their everyday reading experience. Most importantly, it shows them that reading is an enjoyable, pleasurable experience that’s worth pursuing.

So if you are not already reading aloud daily to your children, pick up some books at the library or the book store this week, and start enjoying some special reading time with your children every day.

Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed., MA, is a teacher with 28 years of professional experience. You can write to her at with your questions or comments.