The Importance of Reading Aloud

Dad and toddler reading togetherIf you’ve always been inclined towards pediatrics and you’ve been in the field….a while, it might be difficult to realize how many folks need training to read to their child, especially if that child needs more language support than typical.

I tell many of my parents that one of their primary “homework” activities is reading aloud and not just for the preschool years.  I have a handout I give with explanations of why books and consistent reading aloud is so critical to school success.  Among other things it:

  • Builds joint attention
  • Build vocabulary
  • Creates expectations for sequences and typical story structure
  • Teaches inference skills
  • Creates awareness of advanced grammatical structures and length of utterance
  • Is fun bonding time!

It’s a delicate balancing act because the parents I work with are well-educated.  In fact, it’s not unusual for me to recommend or teach them to simplify their language or to comment periodically rather than incessant quizzing–what’s that?  What’s that?

I also give suggestions for types of books.  Many kiddos with language delays seem to gravitate toward “fact” books (and the parents are often huge fans on counting, ABC and learning/non-fiction books).  I’m not saying there isn’t merit to these but I push for at least one fiction opportunity each day.

For really little ones, I like simple, predictable stories and short re-tellings of the classics.  As kiddos get older, I encourage adding a chapter book that takes a few nights to finish (Magic Treehouse series is a particular favorite of mine).  I like that the set-up and ending are so similar, sandwiching the middle action.  The main characters are a brother and sister so everyone can relate.  (In my house, where we had a brother/sister duo it was a great bonus.)  Plus, having the story told over several days means the child needs to hold on to previously heard info and continue to build on it–an important classroom skill.

Already a subscriber? You can find the free parent handout in my Therapy Closet. Just click here.

Option #2, scroll to the top of the page and subscribe! (I never share email addresses. Ever.) I’ll send your (virtual) set of keys to my closet of awesome FREE resources, including this one, right over!

Struggling to get your child to sit and engage with books? Join me for the Engaging Children with Books webinar.

My students are 18 months and up and many don’t have an established books before bedtime routine.  How about you?  Did/do you do read alouds at your house and what was a favorite selection?  I can still recite sections of Curious George and the Francis books (love that classic, sassy badger!) and we stuck with our routine through all of the Harry Potter and Lightening Thief books too!


This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Dawn Carriero

    Hi! I love reading your weekly emails and almost always enjoy printing out your activities (not to mention your TPT site!) I wonder if you would send on the article you mentioned about why reading to children is important? It would be awesome to send to a number of students I have on my caseload!

    Thanks for all you do to share with us!

    1. admin

      Thank YOU! I just made a version of this post printable. Scroll to the bottom and click on the link. Let me know if you have any issues. FYI, Thursday’s post has suggestions for apps that can be used to “train” parents in reading aloud so check back!

  2. Stacy Magnus

    My daughter always loved hearing the “Little House on the Prairie”, “Junie B. Jones”, and “Ramona and Beezus” stories. She is graduating from pharmacy school in May and still talks about how we would read these books aloud, chapter by chapter, each evening before she went to bed.

  3. Melanie Gayton

    Hi! I’m an SLP. Do you have a handout like this for parents specifically? This one seems like it’s geared towards SLP’s. I didn’t want to “recreate the wheel” if you already made one up. Thanks! Great site! Love it!

    1. admin

      Melanie, Let me see what I can do. Give me until Sunday 🙂 Kim

  4. Brynn

    Agree, agree, agree. Favorite read-alouds when my daughter (now 17) was younger– Little House on the Prairie series, Grandma’s Attic series, and with my sons (now 9 and 10)– Frog and Toad, Encyclopedia Brown, Gregor the Overlander, the Hobbit, Shel Silverstein, Calvin and Hobbes, Winnie-the-Pooh (real version), many of Roald Dahl’s books and the Chronicles of Narnia. These and so many more fantastic read-alouds have been part of our bedtime routine for years. We also listen to audio books together on long car rides. We’re in the middle of the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flannigan on recent trips. When parents tell me their child doesn’t enjoy listening to books read aloud, I tell them they need to keep searching for better books. Try a mystery, something humorous, something spooky, something with a character the same age as they are. If reading is a warm, cuddling, no-pressure time (and TV isn’t an option), kids will love it.

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The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.