Helping your child with reading: 1 Reading Aloud

The following is the first in a series of 3 posts designed for parents who have children who are still learning how to read. The first thing to remember is that the main aim is for children to want to read – stress and anxiety or too much pressure can lead to children who know how to read but choose not to read because they associate reading with stress and failure.

‘emotions are the primary gatekeepers to learning.’          (OECD – 2017)

So . . . you can do a great deal to support your child as he or she is learning to read by:

  • Reading to your child/ren;
  • Reading with your child/ren; and
  • Providing support and encouragement for children to read by themselves.

I will expand on the first of these three points in this posting and the other two in their own posts.

Reading to your child/ren

A powerful, and sometimes underestimated way to support your child/ren as they are learning to read is to continue to read to them – every day. When you read to your children you:

  • promote and foster a love of reading;
  • develop vocabulary and a knowledge of book language and text forms;
  • develop awareness of the sounds, rhythms, and patterns of language;
  • engage children in conversations about texts;
  • encourage children to respond imaginatively to a variety of texts;
  • build concentration;
  • promote oral language development;
  • develop skills in listening comprehension and critical thinking;
  • provide opportunities for children to visualise aspects of a text;
  • help children to develop effective strategies for dealing with unfamiliar vocabulary and building meaning;
  • support children who are learning English;
  • create opportunities for retelling and ideas for writing.

Remember that reading aloud is a performance tasks so ham it up, read with expression and make the book come to life. The children will love it. Don’t worry if you make the odd mistake – just show your child/ren how you fix up any mistakes you make. These become very important lessons in how even the best readers problem solve as they read.

Consider asking an older sibling to read to the younger members of the family sometimes. This is good practice for the older child/ren and the younger ones will love it.

Make time to read books that can be enjoyed by multiple ages if you have more than one child. Novels like Roald Dahl’s, The BFG, or EB White’s Charlotte’s Webb, for example can be enjoyed by a range of age, but don’t underestimate picture books. Many have complex stories and these are told by a combination of written words and visual images.

. . . young children’s brains respond to being read picture books in ways that are different to when they just listen to a story without pictures, or watch an animated story or cartoon. (Kamentez, 2018) Click below to read more.

What’s Going On In Your Child’s Brain When You Read Them A Story?

If you aren’t sure what books are good to read aloud to your children contact the school or local library.

“When someone reads aloud, they raise [the listener] to the level of the book. They give [the listener] reading, as a gift” (Pennac, p. 96).

Pennac, D. (2006). The rights of the reader. London: Walker Books.

When you read aloud to your children you do the decoding work so that they can engage with the book in a way that they would not be able to do on their own.

You can supplement you reading aloud with audio books although they come second to the real thing.

The following TedX talk is by Rebecca Bellingham. It is quite short and worth a listen.

N.B. If you want to read more on this topic  you might enjoy: Layne, S. (2015). In Defense of Read-Aloud: Sustaining best practice. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

If you have found this post useful please comment and share the link to the blog with other families. The second in this series of posts will focus Reading with your child/ren.

Published by nmackenz

My name is Noella Mackenzie and I am an Associate Professor (Adjunct) at Charles Sturt University, Albury-Wodonga Campus in NSW, Australia and a Senior Fellow of the Australian Literacy Educators' of Australia. I also work as an independent education consultant. I am also a daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother who loves to read, garden and travel. While my career has always been in education, there have been four distinct phases. The first phase was that of classroom teacher – teaching children from 5-12 years of age in a number of primary schools. The second phase of my career saw me working as a specialist professional development provider working with teachers in early intervention and special education. The third phase had me working as an academic at Charles Sturt University. That role involved me teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students, researching and continuing my work with teachers and parents of young children. The fourth phase sees me working as an independent education consultant, supporting school systems and schools with professional learning input for teachers. I am passionate about teaching and in particular early literacy development. I am proudly the product of public education. I grew up on a farm and went to the local primary and high schools where I was fortunate to have some fabulous teachers. My Diploma of Education (Early Childhood) was earned at the Riverina College of Advanced Education in Wagga Wagga NSW. My Bachelor of Education, Master of Education and Doctor of Education qualifications were all earned at LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Vic and were spread out over a number of years as I studied part time and worked full time. I completed my doctorate in 2004 and started work at CSU in the same year.

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