Reading aloud may be the single most important activity parents do with their child. That's because a child who is read to is more likely to enjoy reading and will want to learn to read.
Once a child becomes passionate about reading-he or she will have the opportunity to enjoy a lifetime of learning.
According to Dr. Andrea Pastorok, education psychologist for Kumon Math and Reading Centers, reading aloud stimulates the brain and serves as the foundation for literacy development. Studies show that the more a person reads, the better he or she becomes at it and students who read the most are more likely to stay in school and experience academic achievement.
Dr. Pastorok recommends these tips to make reading aloud fun and interesting for your children:
1. Begin reading aloud to your child as soon as possible. Reading to infants helps them develop a sense for the rhythm and pattern of language.
2. Remember, the art of listening is acquired. It must be taught and cultivated gradually. Read slowly enough for your child to build mental pictures of what he or she has just heard.
3. Reading aloud helps children develop their imaginations and creativity. Looking at illustrations also encourages an appreciation of art.
4. If chapters are too long for one reading session, find a suspenseful stopping point.
5. Use plenty of expression when reading. If possible, change the tone of your voice to fit the dialogue and adjust the pace of your voice to fit the story.
6. Avoid long descriptive passages until the child's imagination, vocabulary and attention span are capable of handling them.
7. Unusually active children may find it difficult to sit and listen. Paper, crayons and pencils allow them to keep their hands busy while listening.
8. Encourage conversation about what is being read. Foster a child's curiosity with patient answers to their questions.
9. Remember to set aside regular reading times each day for your child to read on his or her own.
Dr. Pastorok is an educational specialist with Kumon Math and Reading Centers. She has a doctorate in educational psychology, a master's degree in counseling psychology and more than 30 years' experience working with children.