Google it, and you'll find hundreds of articles about the importance
of reading to your baby, toddler, and preschooler. But what about reading to our older, school-age kids?
is an awful myth that as soon as kids can read on their own, the parents' "job" of reading to their children is
done. For our family, reading with our kids is a gift. We love curling up with great books and spending hours
lost in a good read. And I know we're not alone - I talk to tons of parents who feel the same way. It's been exciting
this year, as our oldest boy (who is five) is starting really enjoy short novels and kid-friendly classics. We've had
a blast reading The Boxcar Children and easy versions of Around the World in 80 Days and Black Beauty. I'm giddy at
the ability to read to our child, what I read when I was young.
As parents, we can't afford to underestimate the value of continuing
to read to our kids as they get older. The benefits are just as real and maybe even more impactful as they were during
the early years.
Here are some of the amazing advantages of continuing to read aloud to your
Family closeness, bonding, shared experiences and discussion.
Spending time together, screen-free, engaged in a book is a great way for you to say to your child, 'I'm here - and my focus
is on you.' It can be a very special time of the day. Experience a story, poem, non-fiction article or book and
then talk about what you read. Listen to your child. Before long, you'll find your discussions going in all sorts
of directions as the lines of communication are opened and quality time is spent together.
Improvement of your child's concentration, focus, and attention span. The key as kids grow is finding
the right type of books. Read books below, at, and above your chid's level. Find books that challenge their thinking
and encourage them to really focus - but don't frustrate them with stories of topics that are too difficult or language far
beyond their skill level. It's a balance. But doing this will greatly help in developing their concentration skills
and ability to focus on a story that keeps them engaged and their mind moving.
Growth and development of vocabulary and use of language. When kids hear the english language read
to them, it registers in their brains differently than when they read it to themselves. Hearing new words and longer,
more complex sentences - thoroughly enjoying the sound of the story as it is read - is a fantastic way for kids to build their
vocabulary and improve their language skills naturally and easily.
An understanding of the
value of books. Because you are making reading a part of everyday (or at least almost every day) life, you
are sending a strong message to your children. If you model reading for them and show them that books are fun and useful
- this will foster a deep-rooted appreciation for literature and the power and significance that books hold.
Fostering a stronger desire to read. If you are reading the right kind of books, the more you read
to your children, the more they'll want to be read to and the more they'll want to read on their own. The more they
read, the wiser and more inspired they will become. If readers are leaders (and they are) - growing a child who hungrily
engages with books is watching a world-changer in the making.
Books inspire imagination and creativity.
Kids take bits and pieces of the stories they read and plug them into their own imaginative play, creative thinking, and their
writing. When kids discover new and hilarious characters, interesting historical events, and fascinating imaginary worlds
- they benefit more deeply than we can ever imagine.
If your child is still very young, read with them daily and don't
stop. Their reading interests and needs will change and your reading time can adapt.
If your children are
older and you haven't read aloud in a while, give it a try! We can't assume older kids don't want to be read
to. Find their interests and be willing to listen. The benefits of engaging in books together far outweighs any
shaky start or awkward beginning.
I'm convinced we'll never look back and say, "Oh! I
wish I had of read less to my children!" Reading is such a magical thing. It can take us on journeys
around the world, into the mind of someone new, and inspire us to be better people. Sharing these feelings and discoveries
with our children is an irreplaceable way to build our relationship with them and enjoy special times that they will remember
until they're old. Who knows - maybe they'll read some of the same books you're reading today with their children or
even grandchildren years down the road. Maybe they'll get the chance to experience those unforgetable moments when a
child, snuggled by your side, looks up and whispers, "keep on reading..."
Cassandra Dorman is an
Educational Specialist with Usborne Books and a home-educating Mom of three young children. If you'd like to learn more
about the power of literacy, want to host a book party to receive free books for your family or classroom, or would enjoy
promoting the love of reading by running your own Usborne business, more info is available at: www.everydaydiscoveries.ca.