Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Five Essential Reasons to Read Aloud to your Kids

There are so many things you know you should do as a parent, but sometimes - eh, really, most of the time - there just isn't enough time in the day to get it all done. If like me, you could use some help in this area, keep reading for some inspiration!

Too frequently in our house, reading aloud was put on the back burner. It just wasn't a priority. Sure, we'd always try to read a book before bed, but it was rushed and frankly, sometimes skipped because - tired. Despite this, as a reader myself, I absolutely want to instill a love of reading in my son and daughter. I recently finished "The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids" by Sarah Mackenzie, and her passion totally lit a fire of motivation for me to focus on reading aloud. 

"If we tell them enough stories, they will have encountered hard questions and practiced living through so many trials, hardships, and unexpected situations that, God willing, they will have what they need to become the heroes of their own stories"

The premise of "The Read Aloud Family" is that reading aloud is one of the most important, beneficial, and enriching things that you can do with your children. And the author, Sarah Mackenzie, creates a very convincing argument for this in part because her passion is just so contagious. One of the most compelling reasons for me was her assertion that by reading about hard/brave/exciting etc. topics and experiences, you expose your children to either things they may never experience or difficult things before they have the opportunity to experience them. Books open the door to conversations that we want to have with our kids and give us a framework for having them!

Something we all want for our children but might not know how to get there,  reading books leads to "increased vocabulary and highly sophisticated language patterns"

In "The Read Aloud Family" Mackenzie gives many examples of practical benefits for reading aloud and one that really grabbed me was the vocabulary and language patterns in books. Of course, we talk to our children all day (and they also talk all day, haha). But the vocabulary and sentence structure of even an entry-level children's book is very different from our day to day conversations with our kiddos. The words we encounter in those books may be different than the ones we use ourselves and the more books we read and the more our children hear these new words, the greater their opportunities for expanding vocabulary and also how they speak!

"What Jiang's memoir does so well - and what every story can do that a news report cannot - is help us see life from a point of view we have never considered...What thoughts might niggle their way into a twelve year olds mind in that situation? And what might it take for her to break free from that way of thinking?

The author lists hundreds of suggestions for read alouds in her book, and one she discusses reading with her children is "Red Scarf Girl" by Ji-Li Jiang. As an adult, reading so that I can live a life other than mine and walk in someone else's shoes, is one of the most important and fulfilling reasons why I read. Introducing kids to other cultures and ways of life is an invaluable part of reading aloud to them!

" I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last."

I agree with this point in the book wholeheartedly! There are SO many children's books out there and it can be paralyzing to see all of the options and wonder if you're picking the best ones. A simple test for me of whether to hang on to a children's book or read it to my kiddos is whether I enjoy it. Not only are the books I enjoy more fun for me to read, I think that my kids pick up on that enjoyment, too. Sure there are some my son, in particular, enjoys that I would love to hide, haha but for the most part mutually enjoyed books are truly the best ones for all readers!

"If you know any voracious readers ( or perhaps you are one yourself), you know that reading begets reading."

Just get started! Reading to your children leads to more reading. Whether that be because they ask for it more, you realize how easy it is, the books are out more because they are being used - whatever the reason, reading begets reading. The next time you are hung up without an activity or the chorus of "we're bored" strikes up again, grab a book and see where it takes you!


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