Once Christmas is over, hopefully you’ll have a little time to just enjoy your family this week.  Be sure to work in some time to read with your children!  Even if your children are reading on their own, reading aloud is valuable and enjoyable–for older children too.

Reading Age versus Listening Age

There is a difference between reading age and listening age.  According to the website “Best Books For Kids,” “If your child is eight, he will probably have a reading age of around eight. This means his reading skills and abilities are exactly what a teacher would expect from an eight-year-old. But your eight-year-old will have a listening age at least a couple of years ahead of his chronological age. His listening age will probably be at least 11 or 12 years old.”

That means your eight-year-old could easily understand a story which is at an 11 or 12 year reading level—though he or she would find it hard read.  This is one of the best reasons for reading to older children: so that they can enjoy books which they would find difficult to read on their own.

Build Vocabulary and Learn the Nuances of Reading

Listening builds vocabulary, teaches inferences and other reading skills.  Good readers are able to understand what they read by understanding context—subtle cues and vocabulary that provide meaning.  The more your children improve their vocabulary and learn the nuances that come with good writing, the stronger readers they will be.  In fact, students who read a lot tend to do well on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT because their vocabulary is strong and they are adept at using context clues to understand what they are reading.

Develop Lifelong Readers

In an article entitled “The Hidden Benefits of Reading Aloud — Even for Older Kids,” educator Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook, made this comment about why even reading to high schoolers is valuable:

“Most of the material kids read in school, no one would read for pleasure. And if all your reading is tied to work, you develop a sweat mentality to reading, so by time you graduate you can’t wait to stop reading. You become a school-time reader, not a life-time reader. Of course, kids have to do a certain amount of reading that’s tied to work, but you don’t want kids to forget that there are books out there to make you laugh, make you cry, and move the soul.”

During this winter break, sit down and read with your children.  Make them laugh, make them cry, and maybe even move their soul.

Looking for a list of great read-aloud books?  The website “Best Books for Kids” has a list you can draw from (scroll down the site to find the list).  If you worry that your child is not reading at grade level, in addition to reading to him or her, contact Knowledge Edge.  Our Reading Program typically raises a student reading level one grade level in a 40-hour program.  For more information, click here.