“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” This is from the 1985 report of the Commission on Reading. Reading is foundational for building a lifetime of knowledge. This process begins when children are young and continues as they grow and mature. When you read aloud to your child you are creating a great opportunity to bond. It is an opportunity to slow down while you read aloud from a great story. A story you can share together.

Reading aloud to a child helps that child figure out how language is put together. It builds a foundation for language use. It also develops thinking skills which contribute to understanding. It will stimulate a child’s imagination and help him to understand logical sequence.

Experts agree that starting early has many long-term benefits. When your child is 1 to 2 months old (or even before birth) you can begin reading aloud. You will take the empty framework and begin to fill it up with experiences, grand adventures, and memorable characters without ever leaving your home.
Poetry is a natural place to start with young children. We all remember nursery rhymes from our youth. Children are naturally drawn to songs or poems that have a meter or rhyme. As they are able to talk, memorizing is also a great tool to increase language and reading skills.
Bring the characters to life when you read aloud. Read with enthusiasm using vocal inflections to help keep your child’s attention. Start slowly and gradually add more time to your reading aloud. This will help develop your child’s attention span. Many children are helped in this area by being allowed to draw or use Play-doh or Silly Putty. My kinesthetic son has drawn some great pictures during our read aloud times.
Don’t always stop at the end of a chapter. It is better to create some suspense and wonder leaving everyone to wonder what will happen next. Sometimes you may want to break up the time into two readings. I have found setting a schedule to be helpful and also something we all look forward to every day.
Ask questions while you read. Speculate as to what might happen next. Ask your children for their feedback and what they think of certain characters actions. This will help them to become more inquisitive.
Reading aloud opens up whole new worlds for your child to explore. Make it adventurous and fun. Looking for additional information on maps or letting the children draw a scene they particularly enjoyed will help give the book a larger context.
Remember to explain words your child may not understand. This will help build his vocabulary which in turn will increase his interest and lower his frustration.
Continue read aloud times long after your child can read to himself. Older children will benefit significantly also.

Parents underestimate their own ability to help their child’s reading fluency. So go ahead; choose good reading material and start enjoying the benefits of reading aloud as a family.

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