WHY READING ALOUD TO CHILDREN IS IMPORTANT
The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. This is especially so during the preschool years.
...from Becoming a Nation of Readers
REASONS WHY READING ALOUD HELPS
There are some well-researched benefits to a child whose parents read aloud to him.
Builds Background Knowledge A critical benefit of hours of reading stories to children is that the child gains knowledge of things, people, and places that he is less likely to acquire from any other source. It's as if we are creating a huge storage of mental images of life's experiences and doing so much faster than the child could experience firsthand. Having backround, or prior knowledge, about the topic when a reading a new book is a critical component of later comprehension after the child has learned to read the words.
Builds Vocabulary A child with a large listening and speaking vocabulary has an enormous advantage in learning to read. Reading comprehension depends more than any other single skill on knowing the meanings of individual words in the passage.
Develops Familiarity with Rich Language Patterns Exposure to sentence patterns and special uses of language that are found in books are equally as important as background information and vacabulary. The more exposure to complex and well-structured sentences, the more likely the child will use such sentence patterns himself. This exposure helps with comprehension, as well as speaking and writing abiltiy as the child matures. In the preschool years, children learn from listening to patterns spoken around them and modeling their own language patterns after those of other speakers.
Develops Familiarity with Story Structure During the preschool years, children absorb a great deal about story structure from hearing stories. This knowledge is helpful once they begin to read and write their own stories. Preschoolers who have been read hundreds of stories begin to understand that stories have common characteristics.
Common Characteristics of Stories
*The story has a title. *There are characters, including a main character. *The story takes place in a setting (time, place). *The characters usually have a problem to solve. *The action hinges on how the problem is solved. *There is a climax in the story, before it ends. *Language is used to create the effect of surprise, sadness, climax, or humor.
Acquires Familiarity with the Reading Process Children learn about what reading is by observing others read to them. The child beging to form ideas about the print on the page corresponding to words that are the same as those the child hears in speaking and listening. This correlation is an important step in learning about reading. Print Awareness (learning about print) is a pre-reading concept that can be learned from being read to by an adult. These concepts include the following: how the book is turned when it is "right side up"; that the print is read, not the pictures; where the beginning of the book is; the order of reading the print on a page (top to bottom, left to right); what to do at the end of a line; and what to do at the end of a page.
Identifies Reading As a Pleasurable Activity Probably the most important thing about reading aloud to a child is to allow the child to experience reading as an enjoyable activity. If the child associates pleasure with reading, the child will have a greater desire to learn to read.