Reading aloud to our children seems like such a simple thing, yet it is full of so many benefits and rewards. Homeschooling gives the opportunity of time, time to read to our children more than any other educational choice.
For our family the hours just drifted away as I read to my boys. Sometimes, actually often, I would read six hours a day. This may seem like a crazy amount of time, but for our family some of the happiest hours ever spent.
Bedtime reading is much more common in every household, but often ends after the children start reading on their own. Yet there are so many benefits to keep on reading aloud long past this point and whenever possible. The benefits are so encouraging. I did not read aloud because of the benefits, but I definitely experienced all these benefits with my boys. And I consider this is one of the many joys of homeschooling–time to read together.
Here are some of the most blaring benefits:
- Encourages a lifelong love of books. Although my boys are long past being read to, they both still read all the time. My older son often has three books going at the same time, and he finishes them all. Our family may far outweigh the statistics, if these statistics from 2003 are still accurate. They say that 1/3 of high school graduates will never read another book. And 42% of college graduates will never read a book again. The most shocking for me was that 80% of families in the U.S. have not bought or read a book in the past year. These stats and more can be found on http://mentalfloss.com/article/27590/who-reads-books
- Gives families amazing bonding opportunities. There is great bonding that happens when reading a book together; whether cuddling on the sofa together or discussing the books after. We had a sofa that was our reading sofa. It was old and worn out, but we loved that sofa. One summer when the kids and I were traveling to see my family, my husband decided to surprise us with some remodeling of the living room. He had thrown out the sofa and replaced it with two chairs. When we returned, what he thought would bring surprise and gratitude, brought tears of sadness from us all instead. There had been so many memories created reading together on that sofa, and we were sad at the loss. Sitting close together was special time spent. The best was also the discussions afterwards of what we had read.
- Reading aloud to help children cope during times of stress and tragedy. My children experienced the death of two grandparents when fairly young. Reading was so calming and such a great way to help them cope with the grief. When there was a character experiencing grief in the books we read, we could talk about it openly, whether about their own grief or the characters. Reading helped me as well, as it was my parents. My mother had died suddenly and my father had died a year and half later. These were years filled with grief. There were many other times my boys were upset and I would turn to books to help them cope. I am grateful for all the authors that have given us such great books.
- Along the same lines, books are great teachers of different emotions like fear, anger, joy and sadness.
- Educational Benefits abound when reading aloud to children. So many studies have shown that being read to often helps children build vocabulary and language skills. There is also the benefit of increased attention span, listening and comprehension skills. And for the young, it prepares them for reading and writing themselves. Plus, even when your children are reading on their own the best part of continuing to read to them is that you can read books that are many levels above their own reading level. This broadens their vocabulary and language skills continually.
- The beginning of your own family book club. As you read it can bring up the best discussions ever. We would often find a book we loved and then read every book by that author. We would spend our dinnertime discussing the plot twists, characters and surprises that each book presented.
One of the unique ways that we came up with recording what we read was by creating a book that was a log. Those logs are now family keepsakes. We wanted to remember what we had read together and I was able to use this book as part of our educational record. This book journal included our thoughts about what we read, pictures drawn of a scene, disappointments we had with endings, or our absolute favorite books that we read often.