Reading Aloud Carries Great Benefit
November 01, 2012
by Melanie Ogle '15
I am a sophomore at Stonehill College studying elementary education and sociology. I am taking a class this semester on reading theory and instruction, and we recently read the book "The Read-Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease.
Today there is an increasing pressure on students to perform well on standardized tests, such as the MCAS and SAT. Many parents believe that structured preparation courses will help their children perform better on such tests. However, what parents do not realize is that the best preparation is free and right at home and that is to read aloud to them every day.
In "The Read-Aloud Handbook," Trelease discusses the importance of reading aloud to children. Reading aloud is the best way to expose children to new vocabulary they may not hear in regular conversation, allowing them to develop a "listening vocabulary." This listening vocabulary helps them identify unknown words in print. When students practice their reading, they can refine their word attack skills, expand vocabulary and follow a rich plot. These are all necessary steps in becoming a successful, proficient reader. Mastering these skills aids in success on the reading sections of standardized tests and improves overall school performance.
As an example, the "Harry Potter" series is one that many children are familiar with and genuinely enjoy reading. Even young children were able to enjoy these novels, as children have the ability to comprehend reading material two grade levels above their own when it is read to them. When the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores were released in 2004, there was a seven-point rise in the fourth-grade reading scores. This rise was attributed to new "Reading First" tests, when in reality students' increased time spent reading for pleasure and hearing the "Harry Potter" books read aloud were the sources of this jump.
Trelease sites an instance in his book in which a boy named Christopher Williams received a perfect score on the 2002 ACT without taking a single preparation course. When his parents were asked what they did to help with this achievement, the answer was simple. They have read aloud to him since he was an infant. Exposing children to the enjoyment reading can provide from a young age makes them likely to take up reading on their own. This passion for reading cannot be provided by a preparation course.
It is never too late to start reading aloud to your children, and they are never too old to be read to. Set aside just 15 minutes tonight and every night to bring your child closer to a brighter future.
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