Many adults, including teachers, stop reading to children after lower elementary school, sometimes even earlier. A common belief seems to be that reading aloud is the predecessor to silent reading and that once children begin to read silently, we should stop reading aloud to them. This is most unfortunate.
Everyone – we adults included – enjoys being read to. However, some older children may feel that we are treating them like little kids if we read aloud to them. One way to overcome this objection is with the choice of materials that we read. Older children will quickly recognize that the content is not baby-ish. An additional way to show that reading aloud is not just for young children is for another adult to join as a listener. In this way, children see that adults too take pleasure from being read to. After all, adults buy millions of audio books (books on tape or CD, etc.) every year.
Experts on language teaching recommend reading aloud for all ages of students. For instance, Regie Routman, author of best-selling books for reading teachers, states that “reading aloud should take place daily at all grade levels, including junior high and high school.” Similarly, in their book A Nation of Readers, Richard Anderson and colleagues state that reading aloud “is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.” (p. 51)
Research supports the use of reading aloud with older students. For example, Professor Warwick Elley of New Zealand led an international study that compared reading levels of students between 9 and 14 years of age in 32 different countries. One of the study’s conclusions was that frequent reading aloud by teachers contributes to higher reading scores.
M. S. Cosgrove conducted research with upper elementary school children and found that they too benefit from being read to, even though they were all able to read on their own. These benefits of reading aloud came in the form of higher achievement and enhanced attitudes towards reading.
Dad reminder: You can start to read to your kids at ANY age. It's fun for the kids and dad. It really is a dad duty!
- George Jacobs, Ph.D. and Wan Loh Inn, Ed.D.
Dr. George Jacobs, Ph.D. and Dr. Wan Loh Inn, Ed.D. are the authors of many books (including "The Read Aloud Guide", textbooks for teachers and students, curriculum guides, and children's storybooks).
Find out more about reading aloud to your kids.