Why reading aloud to older children is a good idea

Why reading aloud to older children is a good idea

I lie on my stomach, chin propped up on my hands, a book open in front of me, reading aloud. I am flanked by H and N following the story. The book is ‘Wonder’ by R. J. Palacio.
The twins are ten years old and yes I still read aloud to them. They’ve been reading on their own for sometime now yet for some reason they love to hear me. Each night we snuggle up and we go through a chapter or two. We take a month, to finish a book sometimes more if it’s a big one. They don’t seem to mind.
Since when they were babies, H and N have loved stories. When they were younger they insisted I narrate it in my own words. Slowly they got used to me reading.
As they grew they started reading on their own but I didn’t stop our nightly sessions. I took up different books – bigger books, books with better vocabulary, books handling trickier issues. And we kept on reading. It has become a night-time ritual of sorts.
I’ve found I enjoy it as much as the children. Here are seven reasons why reading aloud to older kids is good for them too.
It nourishes their passion for stories
The twins aren’t very avid readers. I didn’t want their lack of proficiency in reading to rob them of their love for stories, which they love passionately. Listening to me read keeps their imaginations alive and their minds ticking.
Its whets their appetite for reading
There has hardly been a day when I have been able to stop without  the twins begging for more. Yet, there are days when I just have to stop. And one day I found H carrying the book to school ‘to read on the bus’ because he just couldn’t wait to find out what happened. Of course that complicated things a bit because he had read it and N hadn’t but interestingly he never minds it when I re-read those bits. That’s another mystery about kids – they don’t mind listening to their favourite stories over and over again.
It encourages them to try different kinds of books
The kids pretty much pick their own books. Their favourite reads include Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Captain Underpants and Tom Gates. I try to let them be. However, when I read to them I have a say in the book we choose. This becomes a great way to introduce them to new and different ones.
It encourages them to try bulkier books
The text heavy books still put them off. And those are the ones I pick. I’m hoping they will realise that great stories emerge from those fat books. And that one needs patience to truly savour a riveting read.
It adds to their vocabulary
When they read on their own they often skip words they don’t understand or deduce their meaning, which isn’t bad at all. However when we read they often stop me to ask what exactly a word means. They ask about varied usages of words and exclaim if they stumble upon a biggie second time round (specially homophones and homonyms).
It helps talk about sensitive issues
The discussions we have are priceless. ‘Wonder’ gave us the chance to talk about middle school, about bullying and about judging people based on their physical appearances and about being judgemental.
It adds to the cuddle-time
Yeah that one’s my favourite. I get to hold on to their childhood for a bit longer. I know I know and I’m trying not to be that clingy mum but I cannot help but enjoy this bit of their extended childhood.
Today on World Read Aloud Day pick up a book and share it with your child. You can read more about the events related to the day here.

21 Replies to “Why reading aloud to older children is a good idea”

  1. I do the same with my two!their joy in listening to my tone and pitch I said unparalleled..of. Of course, both are very capable of reading on their own, they are 8 and 11 respectively, but somewhere I don’t want to lose that connect!

  2. I loved my Mom reading to me when I was young, Tulika and your kids are blessed to have you do it for them. I've recently started listening to audio books too and find them great.

    1. Oh yes audio books are a lot on my agenda. I think it would be ever so relaxing to lie back and have someone tell you a story. Thanks for dropping by Corinne.

  3. Very good article, thoughtful points. Reading to kids and raising kids with reading habit are essential. My grandmother used to tell stories to me (without books, however she is an avid reader) and I still remember those (well, most of them) stories. I used to read comics a lot but, my first children novel was Sitaaron Se Aage.

    I also read to my 4 yr old. He likes books. 🙂 I have subscribed to a weekly children's magazine called Magic Pot.

  4. It's a lovely ritual, Tulika. I only read Hindi with the younger son and mostly make him read so that his reading improves. But yes, it is still quite enjoyable though I don't do it every night. With the elder son, well he is a teen and he prefers to read on his own. 🙂

  5. Cuddle time is a bonus isn't it? Sadly, none of my parents were into the habit of reading so I picked up this all by myself. But reading to a child does seem like a good idea to inculcate reading in a child.

    1. Cuddle time is aways a bonus. My parents were academics, I wouldn't call them avid readers but my sister and I picked it up along the way. Interestingly now after retirement they're both into books.

  6. I see your point Tulika … you know I have been battling with my eight year olds reading… She still picks up books way easy for her over the ones she is to read for her age. I think it's because she finds it easier. I often thought if I did read for her she may just get lazy to pick up the habit. Well maybe I just need to reconsider and should read aloud to her….

    1. That's fine Ramya. Like I said mine aren't great readers either. But they're getting there and that's fine. Don't push her to move on. You could maybe say you'll read to her for 10 minutes if she reads her own book for ten minutes first. We do that.

  7. I think it's perfect:-) I did the same – and even with my 18 year old we still read loud together:-) Sharing…. I love that… Big hugs, and thanks for this heartwarming read:-)

  8. Reading aloud to kids is such a good idea, I wonder why parents even stop reading to kids once they start getting older.
    It surely helps to talk about sensitive issues, and a good book always give examples of different ways of reacting, thanks to the melange of characters in the book!

    Loved this list! And Happy World Read Aloud Day to you too 🙂

    1. Thanks Mithila. I guess once kids are older we do away with a lot of rituals which are actually quite fun and can be continued till their teens.

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