After reading the New York Times piece “New Envoy’s Old Advice for Children—Read More” this morning, I was glad to see that the newly named and soon-to-be-crowned National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Katherine Paterson encourages parents to read aloud to their children.
Long-touted as a tool for reading readiness, reading aloud to children at least three times a week has been shown to help children identify letter-sound relationships, have sight-word recognition, and understand words in context (Denton and West, 2002). The 1985 Report of the Commission on Reading, Becoming a Nation of Readers, states that, “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” But reading aloud is also a great tool for older students. SLJ has lauded it as a way to get teens hooked on books: “students who are read to are more motivated to read themselves—increasing the likelihood that they will one day become independent, lifelong readers.” And Education World reminds us that “since children listen on a higher level than they read, listening to other readers stimulates growth and understanding of vocabulary and language patterns. ”
Audiobooks are a great partner for read alouds. While teacher and parent read alouds are valuable, audiobooks offer kids the chance to read aloud independently, following along with the text while listening to a professional narrator read aloud to them. With independent listening to audiobooks, students are also given the power to stop, start, and relisten as necessary. Whole-class audiobook read alouds offer the same benefits as a teacher read aloud, but allow you, the teacher, to walk around the classroom, monitor understanding, and give individual attention to students who may need it.
We applaud Katherine Paterson for bringing reading aloud to the forefront of her campaign, and we hope that she spreads the word that read alouds aren’t just for beginning readers—they’re for everyone!
For more information on how reading aloud and using audiobooks can improve literacy, check out our Teacher Resources tab on the website or request a Recorded Books Work! research guide.
Do you use audiobooks for read alouds in your classroom? Tell us how and why!