Photo by Rob
**Proud to deliver my first guest post, written by Caroline Starr Rose**
You read to your children when they were young, but now they
can do so independently. Are there benefits to keeping up the practice? By
third grade, many parents stop reading aloud, rightly believing their children
able to go it alone.
While this is certainly true, it is significant to realize
that for many, interest in reading takes a huge dip at this age. Books have
become more challenging, school work more complicated, and reading more burden
1. Reading aloud brings
I’ll admit it. At thirty-five, I still love hearing books read
aloud. I listen regularly to books on CD as I run errands. I love it when my
husband says, “Listen to this!” and shares something he’s currently reading. As
a teenager, I remember asking my sister to read to me while I was sick. Even
though I felt too old for it, listening was an escape from my discomfort.
2. Reading aloud builds
When you share a story with others, you participate together in the world the author creates. You experience the story along with your children, allowing for a “touchstone” experience: one all of you can refer back to, share in common, and understand.
3. Reading aloud creates
My father read half
of the Little House on the Prairie
books to me (I made him stop when I realized Laura’s dog, Jack, was going to
die). My mother read a chapter of Nancy Drew to me everyday after school. These
rich memories move beyond the content shared. The security, the undivided attention, and the
continuity my parents offered me in these reading sessions were beyond compare.
I often tell my sons nothing is better than two boys, a book, and a blanket. We
snuggle, read, and enjoy being together. I hope by doing this I’m building the
same sorts of memories my parents gave me.
Children who experience literature build richer vocabularies
and hear the varied rhythms of language. The more exposure, the more natural
and broad this language development is. This introduction to new
topics, places, people, and ideas is limitless. So much I’ve learned of the
world around me I first discovered in a book.
Photo by Barb McMahon
Photo by Barb McMahon
5. Reading aloud
challenges the listener beyond their current reading level.
agree that, when hearing them read aloud, children can readily grasp books two reading
levels beyond their own. Don’t be afraid to give a challenging book a try. I
have picked up many mid-grade novels to read to my older son and have found his
brother, two years younger, just as involved. A younger child might not
comprehend everything, and that’s okay. Read with the big picture in mind.
6. Reading aloud
My third-grader is a voracious reader, but he’ll
gravitate to the same books again and again. On occasion, he’ll bring home
books from the library I suggest, but often won’t pick them up on his own. If
we read together, though, most of the time he’s hooked. Sharing with an adult
can make a new book more attractive.
7. Reading aloud opens
As our children grow older and more
independent, they naturally pull away. By reading aloud, you can share together the
choices characters make, good and bad. Discussion isn’t forced when it grows
out of stories.
Two-time Newbery winner, Katherine Paterson, has said, “Books
are a dress rehearsal for life.” There is safety in witnessing
events through the distance literature creates. Equip your child for his own
future. Read tough stories together, intentionally laying groundwork for his
intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth.
How do I read aloud
to my older children?
I think older children need to be told by an adult
there is nothing wrong with continuing the read aloud experience. If you enthusiastically approach your
child, though it might take several attempts, you will have a positive
Here are some ideas:
- Pick up a novel your child loves and ask if she’d like to read it with you.
- Find a new book by your child’s favorite author and share it together.
your child’s class is reading a novel, get a copy so that you
might share the same book at home. As a teacher, I found this especially beneficial
for those struggling with comprehension.
- Pick a novel for your next family road trip. Read it in the car, in the hotel room before bed, or while you wait for a meal in restaurants.
Writers write, ultimately, to create meaning. What better way is there to connect with a story than alongside your growing child?
Did your parents continue reading to you as you got older?
***Caroline Starr Rose is a mother, former teacher, and writer. An excerpt of her current novel-in-verse is featured in Louisiana Literature magazine. Caroline stays connected with her former students by leading after-school book clubs. She blogs about writing, reading, and waiting at Caroline By Line.***