Reading aloud to your kids is an ingrained parenting tradition, and we know it's beneficial when our children are little and can't yet read for themselves.
As kids become independent readers, however, the ritual of reading together often fades away. But research is now telling us that reading aloud to your kids is still a great thing to do as they get older.
If you're not sure, or perhaps you're worried it'll feel silly reading to a child who can already read for themselves, here are five reasons it's actually a wonderful parenting decision:
Your child wants you to read to them
A recent Scholastic study in the US showed that more than half of children aged 0-5 are read aloud to at home regularly, but this declines rapidly as they get older. One in three kids aged 6-8 are read to, and one in six 9-11 year-olds; most parents say they stopped reading to their children because they're old enough to do it themselves.
Yet, 83% of kids across the age groups said they'd love to be read aloud to.
It's time spent together
Connecting with your child is one of the most valuable things you can do as a parent.
Reading aloud is a way to share some time together, and a chance to immerse yourself in a story with someone you love. This also becomes a shared experience that you've had with your child, which is important in the big picture of that connection too.
In the Scholastic study about reading aloud, nearly 80% of kids say they enjoy it because of that time spent with their parents.
Reading aloud increases confidence
When you read to your child – even when they're getting older – you're helping to increase their vocabulary and modelling how to read fluently and with expression. This, in turn, increases their own confidence in reading.
But reading with your independent reader doesn't have to mean you're doing all the work. It's just as valuable to encourage your child to share the reading aloud, and anecdotally this can help to increase their confidence in public speaking.
It'll help them do better at school
While teachers help kids learn to read, instilling a sense of pleasure in reading is a job for parents. And this is worthwhile for many reasons.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is clear in its research that reading for pleasure translates to better performance at school. And one of the best ways you can teach your child that reading is fun is to do it with them.
Reading aloud gets better as they get older
Let's face it; reading to your child wasn't always very interesting when they were little. You did the hard yards reading those same picture books over and over (and over and over) again when your child was little.
Now, as they get older, is the time they're getting into the books that you might enjoy too. Maybe they're interested in classic stories that will take you back to your own childhood, perhaps some of their new books have great storylines, or maybe your child is into fact books that can teach you a thing or two.