The benefits of reading aloud are numerous – often an undervalued skill but so, so important for developing a huge variety of skills.
I feel very lucky in my role at Read With Me, I read with multiple children in a week across a variety of schools. The main thing I notice across each setting is the increase in confidence in each child, which is helped by developing the relationship with their reading volunteer.
Read on to see the benefits of reading aloud with your child.
- Reading aloud promotes a love of reading
It is a special time, immersing yourself in a book perhaps in pyjamas, in bed or on the sofa. It helps to develop a bond between the reader and the listener, whether a parent or someone at school. There is a quiet understanding that it is just the two of you, exploring this new world – in whichever setting you are reading about that day.
2. Reading aloud increases vocabulary
Unknown words can be discussed together – whether that is meaning or pronunciation.
When children read to themselves, they can skip over unknown words and the meaning of that sentence, paragraph or chapter even may be lost or changed.
Reading aloud gives children the opportunity to hear how the words are pronounced and to discuss the meaning. It also gives the adult the opportunity to address any mispronounced words and to correct them.
3. Reading aloud increases comprehension
Following on from the last point, reading aloud also gives children the opportunity to talk about what they think the story is about.
They can ask questions as they go along and develop a deeper understanding of what they are reading.
This in turn, also helps to develop listening skills. Listening to the adult and processing what that means in relation to the story, but also in the wider world.
4. Reading aloud improves processing and fluency
Again, linked to the previous benefit, an improvement of processing and fluency skills is a huge benefit of reading aloud.
As mentioned previously, words can be skipped/missed when children are reading individually.
Reading aloud means they must slow it down and read every word and think about the expression or meaning whilst they are reading.
One thing I have noticed pretty universally is once children start reading books with a few sentences on a page is noticing punctuation. Children will often read the page without pausing or stopping for commas and full stops. When reading to an adult, they can be encouraged to notice these marks and the fluency, expression and comprehension are very quickly boosted.
5. Reading aloud can boost verbal memory
According to Forrin and McLeod (2017) reading aloud can also help to boost verbal memory.
The ‘dual-action’ of speaking and hearing yourself speaking helps the brain to store that information. Which in turns, helps to commit the new knowledge to the long-term memory. This is known as the ‘production effect’.
“When we add an active measure or a production element to a word,” he adds, “that word becomes more distinct in long-term memory, and hence more memorable.” (McLeod 2017)
6. Reading aloud improves speech
This is a really interesting one I think – as reading aloud uses the same vocal organs as speaking, it can help to develop confidence in speaking, articulation and expression. Children become familiar with their own voice and can discover the joy of using their own voice.
7. Reading aloud improves confidence
Finally, reading aloud to an adult can improve self-confidence. It links back to the original point and perhaps a combination of them all. In a safe environment the relationship between the reader and the listener develops and supports the growth in confidence.
For very shy children, it is two-fold as they don’t have to think about what to say as much as they would in conversation and they can get used to how to say the words, develop the rhythm and expression and the confidence develops from there.
In summary, reading aloud with or even to your child is so, so beneficial. Even in upper primary and into secondary school the benefits are so great it is worth finding the time to do this with your child.
If you have a particularly reluctant reader, reading to them can help too. It is developing the bond, the safe environment and perhaps the start of the love of reading. From there, reading may become a regular part of your week.
Can you think of any other benefits? Let me know below!
P.S. Check out our recent post on Instagram (link below) where we highlight some questions you can ask your child to help develop comprehension even further.