Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reading to Children

When my children were little, we used to set aside some time before bed for reading. What we read about really didn’t matter as long as my children were interested. And research has shown that reading aloud helps children learn to read on their own. It improves their language skills, increases their vocabulary, and helps them learn how books work.

In an article published in the journal of The Reading Teacher, researchers explained ways that parents (as well as teachers) can make the most out of story time based on the research about what helps children learn from reading aloud.

Reading aloud gets children actively involved in thinking and talking about the book with the parent. One strategy is to ask a question and give the child time to answer. Another is to repeat what they say and extend it by adding a few words of your own. Another step is to prompt the child to talk about the book in their own words by asking, for example, “What do you think this child should do next?” Parents may also ask the child how the book relates to their own experiences.

Parents can also help children build their vocabulary by focusing on words and explaining their meanings. These authors recommend not sending the child to the dictionary, but creating “child friendly” definitions and talking about how words are used and connecting them to words kids already know. Regardless of the method used, it’s important for parents to show they are interested in what the child has to say by giving the child time to think and answer in her or his own words.

Lane, H. B. & Wright, T. L. (2007). Maximizing the effectiveness of reading aloud. The Reading Teacher, 60, 668-675.

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