It’s no secret that I’m a big advocate of reading aloud. I once read a short story to the entire Senior School Staff cohort at a morning tea event. I love reading the start of a book to the boys in Wide Reading classes to see if they can guess what genre it is or identify the literary devices used, and I read to my own children every time they ask me (which is pretty much every night)! And, before you ask, no – they’re not toddlers but 14, 13 and 12 years old. I think too many of us believe we should stop reading to children once they have the skills to read by themselves.
Imagine my joy when Reading Culture expert, Dr Margaret Merga, spoke to us at the Arthur Holt Library about the benefits of reading aloud to kids, no matter what age! Hint: it looked something like this…
One recent study (Westbrook, Sutherland, Oakhill & Sullivan, 2018) compared standardised test results in reading comprehension before and after reading English texts aloud to Senior School students for a 12 week period. The improvement was equivalent to 8.5 months for most students, with a remarkable 16 months progress recorded for poorer readers!
Reading aloud can aid student comprehension because they can hear the vocabulary, pronunciation, effective pausing and intonation of a more skilled reader. The added bonus is that you, as the reader, can stop to explain concepts or ideas – a luxury the students don’t usually have when reading independently.
Another great reason to read aloud is that it’s FUN. Sharing stories has been a part of the human experience for millennia and it stirs something within us that’s hard to define. Not all of us consciously seek to share stories, but we all feel the connection that occurs when we do. I know this, because I’ve seen the faces of children and adults alike when I read. I remember being read to at school or at home as a child, and the warm feeling that I experienced at the time. I think we should share more moments like these.
So, please, join in being an advocate for reading aloud, because the benefits are truly worth it. I’d like to leave you with a quote from the master Storyteller himself, Dr Seuss…
You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.