We’ve read this message a million times, but perhaps it can’t be emphasised enough. It’s so important to read aloud to children from a very young age, even if they want to hear the same old book again and again and again (which they all will!). “Familiarity with language, the ability to construct worlds, and later to deconstruct them, and the ability to recognise, follow and ultimately to build and sustain complex arguments are all skills that enrich our apprehension of the world and help us to master it. This is what reading gives children,” says The Guardian, in this great article that laments the closing of libraries and the revelation that this year, for the first time, spending on digital entertainment surpassed that on the printed word: The Guardian view on children’s books: read more, more often
But often we associate this activity with younger children, without realising that it is equally important to continue reading aloud and sharing stories with our older kids. As they become independent readers themselves we become less focussed on sharing this activity with them. This article in The Huffington Post provides some great reminders about why we should continue to read aloud with our children right up until they are in their early teens, even after they have become fluent, confident readers: Why we should continue to read aloud to older children
In today’s busy world though it can be hard to find enough time to read aloud to children. We can all relate to that. So it’s great to remember that parents aren’t the only ones who can take on this role. Older siblings often love to read to their younger brothers or sisters. It helps give them a sense of responsibility as well as providing a way to be helpful and demonstrate their own skills. They learn to give something back. (Not to mention it keeps more than one kid occupied at the same time!). It also helps both children develop fluency. Younger siblings often tend to emulate their older siblings, and sharing this activity together can help with learning new vocabulary and help foster a sense of excitement in preschoolers about learning to read. Cousins or older friends can also play a role, for those who are the only or the eldest child. It seems like a win-win situation to us!