Monday, July 21, 2014

The Importance of Reading Bedtime Stories with Big Kids

Every day after lunch recess my sixth-grade teacher would read aloud to our class for about 15-20 minutes. I still remember every novel she read to us even after all these years. It helped me to relax and refocus for the afternoon, but I recently read an article on the Scholastic website that highlights the other benefits of reading to children who are old enough to read themselves. The author, Christine Cohen, explains what kids gain, how to get back into a routine of reading with an older child and even offers some book suggestions. Check out the entire article here.

Here are four benefits of reading aloud to big kids:

Time with you
By keeping your bedtime routine alive, you and your child get to do something new together — cheer for the good guys and boo the bad ones in the books you read. You also get a peek into how your child sees the world through the comments she makes on the plot, the characters, and the setting. “Because you enter her world through the safe avenue of a third party — a character — you’ll have more insight than you ever would by asking ‘So, how’s life?’ ” says Michelle Anthony, Ph.D., a child psychologist in Denver. And, who knows, you may even find you have opinions in common! 

Stronger reading skills
As kids reach the upper-elementary grades, reading demands increase, yet one-on-one reading instruction for competent readers doesn’t. Listening to you read more advanced books shows her strategies that will help her at school. You read aloud with expression. You pause for punctuation. You raise and lower your voice in tune with the action. You speed up or slow down to indicate the degree of tension in the text. 

New perspectives
Reading aloud with children, especially fourth and fifth-graders, teaches them to analyze and reflect on the text, says Krista Granieri, an adjunct literacy professor at Dowling College in Oakdale, NY, who also teaches elementary school special education classes. When reading to her students, Granieri thinks out loud — commenting on how the text may add to the child’s knowledge of the topic. For example, if you were reading a book with your child about dogs, you might note, “A Pomeranian, just like Aunt Elaine’s dog! But Princess is tan. I didn’t know there were black ones.”  

A headstart on the future
Kids who are already fluent readers can do something their snugglebunny sibs can’t: appreciate the author’s craft. If they hear good writing often enough, it develops their ear. They can’t help but replicate it in schoolwork. 

Looking for some apps that will get kids excited about reading? Check out my Raising a Reader: Tips and apps to make it happen post.

Sarah would like to thank her 6th grade teacher, Mrs. T, for being one of the best teachers she ever had!

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