Reading Aloud: Why Do We Do It?

This is the first in a series about communication between you and your child. Why focus on communication? Brazilian educator Paulo Freire says it best: "Yet only through communication can human life hold meaning." We talk to our children from birth; we spend countless hours and millions of words communicating with them over a lifetime. It's critical to our success as parents to communicate well. Our conversations and connections give lives meaning for both us as parents and our children. Over the next several months, we will explore ideas of what good communication looks like in different facets of parenthood.

Out of everything I do during a single day, there’s one thing that is my absolute favorite: reading.

I’ve been reading since age five and have read thousands of books by now. I was so excited to begin reading to my son, and started in his first month outside the womb. I remember the brightly colored vinyl and cloth books that I’d hold and read to him during his early months. In fact, a decade later, I still read to my son before bed every night. The subject matter has changed, but the routine has stayed the same.

Some of my most favorite parenting moments have come with a book between us. It’s the perfect time to have some cuddles and connect, but the benefits go way beyond just parent and child bonding.

People probably thought I was crazy introducing books to a newborn. I mean, he can’t even focus his eyes on the pictures, right? What’s the point? And reading aloud to a 10 year old? He can read for himself; let him be independent, right? There are substantial benefits to starting to read to our children in infancy and continuing to read aloud to them even after they can read for themselves. Below are the benefits I find most meaningful. They have encouraged me to keep reading aloud; I hope they do the same for you!

Benefits of Reading to Your Child

  • Reading helps your child do better in school. There’s a lot of data on this subject here. It improves their understanding of all subjects, not just language.
  • It fosters a love of books. We are showing our kids that reading is a fun adventure! This can make your child a lifelong reader.
  • Books are a positive tool to teach children how to manage new situations. Each story can model how to act (or not act) when faced with a certain problem or circumstance. Choosing books about situations that may be difficult for your child can help them cope.
  • Storytime is a valuable way to bond with your child and give him the attention he needs and craves from you.
  • It helps children acquire language even before they can speak. Babies can learn the rhythm and song of the spoken word. Older children can learn new words, proper sentence structure and grammar. It helps develop language skills.
  • Want to grow your child’s imagination or storytelling skills? Read to them! Books help kids expand their creativity.
  • Stories help your child think, “What’s next?” Being able to predict an outcome and explore possibilities helps her learn to effectively problem solve.

Once Upon A Time…

Next time it’s story time in your house, have confidence that you’re giving your child an amazing gift by reading aloud to them. Even if they want Goodnight Moon again, read it. I spent plenty of time reading Old Hat, New Hat with my son. It was the first book he ever read to me. Know that all time spent reading is an investment in your child’s future.


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Gretchen has lived in Colorado since she was 12 and never wants to leave. She has a 13-year-old son who is into having a good time, especially with sports and Fortnite. Together, they are navigating the teen world of puberty and growing up. She has a wonderful husband, having been surprised and blessed with a second chance at love. Their family enjoys playing board games, watching Avengers movies, and sharing dumb jokes over good food. In her free time, she loves to read, shop for purses, play games, watch football, laugh with her family, cook delicious food, and dream of the next home improvement project.