Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why I Still Read Aloud to My Teen

I'm often asked for recommendations of titles in which to read aloud with your child. I still actively read aloud with my teen. We've jumped to the stage where we read aloud together with two copies, both following along as we read back and forth. My hope is that he continues to develop comprehension and vocabulary, yet I want him to see the pleasure and joy that comes from reading great books. It also allows me to influence him with ideas and thoughts, and share in the stories that I love.

I hope that through this he will see and experience literature as something fun, something positive, and a way to travel beyond himself.

It is SO IMPORTANT to model expressive reading for children. Many children only hear models of reading from media. How often does media provide all the expressive nuances of language? Children who listen to expressive reading begin to model expressive reading themselves. It opens the door for them to see that the written word has power.

Reading aloud also develops stronger vocabularies and advanced language structure. Think of how a young child acquires language, they do it through listening to speech. In this same way, allowing children to hear new words, new contexts, new sentence structures. A parent needs to continue to offer earfuls of rich words and patterns. What better way to do this than through quality literature?

I just read Read & Write It Out Loud! Guided Oral Literacy Strategies, by Keith Polette

One of the additional benefits of reading aloud, which the book talks about, is the ability to increase attention span. Considering that television shortens the attention span of children, and most programs incorporate quick visual changes, the correlation to increased restlessness is understood. Especially when, as the book explains. that on average children spend 6.2 hours per day watching TV. That's more time in front of a television than most children spend in school! 

TV also promotes passivity; nothing creative is required of the viewer. When children read and are read to, however, they enjoy the opposite experience of TV viewing.

Reading aloud  promotes a slow unfolding of events, images, and ideas—items that must take fully embodied shape in the minds of the listeners.

Read on!!


  1. This is a wonderful posting of very good advice. I also want to add that some of my MOST JOYFUL experiences of a lifetime are times of reading aloud to my children - and now to my grandchildren. THANKS for sharing your joy in carrying on the beautiful tradition. I remember reading that children & teens need heroes to emulate; mom & dad become that hero as they read great stories aloud to their children.

  2. don't know if you'll get this or not, since quite some time has passed since you submitted this post, but I stumbled upon your website today as I was looking for Tasha Tudor art images, and I saw this post. I taught the first three of my children how to read -- what a delight! -- and they all became very good readers. But my youngest came along at a transition time in our family and he has some learning disabilities, too, so it ended up that he learned to read in a school setting. I read aloud to the others so much more than to him as well and I regret that more than anything. However, now he is the only one left at home, and he and I have a good relationship -- he is 16, but I believe he would be accepting of the idea of reading aloud together. I was wondering if you have a list of books that you and your son have read aloud together from which maybe I could glean?