Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | ePaper

Ageless Rewards of Reading Aloud

Part of Lifelong Human Story

  • Print


Margaret Robson Kett :
Readers love to share what they're reading, and there are few pleasures for story lovers like being read to.
From toddlers on someone's lap, listening to a picture book they've heard a hundred times, to a full auditorium, hushed, listening to a writer read their own work, reading aloud is part of the lifelong human story journey.
As a librarian I frequently hear parents of primary school children lament that they miss the nightly bedtime rituals of book sharing - now that their child can read for themselves. But there's no need for this precious shared experience to stop.
Here are seven rewards of reading aloud:
1. Share the experience
Reading aloud brings an author's world alive for listeners to wonder and talk about together. Once a reader becomes confident, the act itself becomes silent. This is one of reading's pleasures. Reading aloud enables those spontaneous moments of a character's action or dilemma to spark the sharing of personal experiences
2. Relax and enjoy
Children may be emotionally ready for a story before they're able to read it independently.  For example, many young people heard Harry Potter before they could read it for themselves. Stories shared in this way become part of a family's shared history. Hearing the story read aloud, by an enthusiastic and enraptured adult means that the mechanical difficulties are overcome and pure enjoyment can take over.
3. Technical support
Reading aloud at home supports formal teaching once children go to school. An understanding of how story works is essential to learning to read, and teachers appreciate a family interest in books and stories.
Parents sometimes feel that they are not academic enough to scaffold their children's learning. 'What counts are genuine interest and active engagement,' says the Secretary-General of the OECD. Has your school hosted a Reading Aloud Night recently?  Maybe you could organise one.
4. Get picky
Research shows children are more motivated to read for pleasure when they choose the books for themselves. This applies to what they listen to as well.
Ask your librarian (with your child) for recommended titles. Read out the blurb and a sample page from two or three book to make your choice together.
5. Keeping it real
It doesn't have to be "fiction" to be great. Readers of all ages choose to only read true stories. Reading history and biography out loud is just as satisfying as a novel.
There's a fantastic selection of Australian nonfiction for young readers to choose from.
6. Be opportunistic
Night-time might not be the right time to read. It's when everyone's reconnecting after a day apart, and sharing a meal and daily news, which is more pressing than the page. But perhaps encourage reading from screens in the kitchen or family room. Share aloud news, sport and opinion. Read out the program descriptions from the TV guide to encourage selective viewing. Save the book for a Sunday morning snuggle on the couch.
7. Let it speak to you
'Reading aloud' can be hands-free. Talking books are a great companion in the car, on holidays and for TV-free evenings at home. Many are wonderful narrations by distinguished actors. The ABC Shop has a wide selection, or check your local library's website for free downloads.
Reading aloud is supposed to be for pleasure, so don't be upset if that treasured favourite of your own childhood has your listeners bored and fidgeting. The story just may not speak to them, or may be best discovered on their own later on.  I'm still getting over nobody else in my family falling in love with Betsy.

(Margaret Robson Kett has been a specialist children's librarian in Australia for over 35 years and has written about books for children and young people for the Australian Book Review and Magpies: Talking about books for children. She was a judge for the Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year awards in 2006/07).

More News For this Category

Mental Health Crisis

Mental Health Crisis

Sean Coughlan :Two-thirds of students support universities being able to warn parents if students have a mental health crisis, an annual survey suggests. There have been concerns about student

Faculty Exchange

Faculty Exchange

Kaushik Sarker :It is said that "Heroes are not born, they are made". China has always been a place of ancient mysteries and known as kingdom of Kungfu, land

Private Higher Education

Private Higher Education

AFM Mohiuddin Ahmed :After deregulation program, the participation of the private sectors is increasing significantly in service sectors in Bangladesh. Higher education sub-sector is one of them. As a

Reduced Timetables

Carl O'Brien :Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, said safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that the use of a reduced timetable is time-limited, in the best

Global Search for Education

Global Search for Education

C. M. Rubin :Since 2009, Design for Change, based in India, has focused on creating learning environments that balance academic programs with character development. Their program focuses on problem-solving

Teaching kids about sustainable living

Teaching kids about sustainable living

Marianne Stenger  :Today's children will be tomorrow's leaders in the battle against climate change, so it's vital that kids understand the concept of sustainable living from an early age.Research

How to Talk to Children about Climate Change

How to Talk to Children about Climate Change

James L. Payne :We smile at seeing those young faces waving placards out in the rain, urging action on the problem of climate change. But our smile is tinged

Imbalanced Assessment in Higher Education

Imbalanced Assessment in Higher Education

Mili Saha :A widespread issue is the poor standard we maintain in our higher education system. I often talk to my colleagues or students teaching in different universities or

Confronting Inequity

Confronting Inequity

Adam Alvarez :Unlike educational equality, which may focus on school outcomes alone, equity is more justice-centered and tends to refer to school outcomes and structures in relation to access

Teens Are Not Alright

Teens Are Not Alright

Cathy Vatterott :Often when I am invited to middle and high schools to work with teachers, it is because school leaders believe their teachers' homework practices are causing students