Why READ ALOUD to children?

The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, a New York Times Bestseller and MUST HAVE for everyone.  Yes, everyone!  Below is a exerpt from Jim Trelease's brochure titled, "Why Read Aloud to Children?"  Read aloud is where we, as adults, help children fall in love with books.  A child is never too young or too old for read aloud.

In 1983, the U.S. Department of Education created its first Commission on Reading to explore the reading decline.  Its 1985 report (Becoming a Nation of Readers) included these findings:

  • "The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."
  • "[reading aloud] is a practice that should continue throughout the grades."

What's so powerful about something that is so simple you don't even need a high school diploma in order for a parent or grandparent to do it?  We read aloud to children for the same reasons we talk with them:  to reassure; entertain; bond; inform; arouse curiosity; and inspire.  But reading aloud goes further than conversation when it:  1.  Conditions the child to associate reading with pleasure; 2.  Creates background knowledge; 3.  Builds "book" vocabulary; 4.  Provides a reading role model.

Not coincidentally, the decline of older students' recreational reading coincides with a decline in the amount of time adults read to them.  By middle school, almost no one is reading to them.  If each read-aloud is a commercial for reading pleasures, then a decline in advertising would naturally be reflected in a decline in teens' recreational reading.

SCIENTIFIC READING FACT:  Human beings are pleasure-centered.  This means we choose to eat the foods we like, listen to the music we like, and visit the friends we like.  Conversely, we avoid the food, music, and people we dislike.  Far from being a theory, this is a physiological fact.  We approach what causes pleasure, and we withdraw from what causes displeasure or pain.  Every time you read to a child, you're sending a "pleasure" message to the child's brain, conditioning it to associate books and print with pleasure.  Without the "want-to," all the "how-to" is not going to create a lifetime reader.  YOUR READING ALOUD IS WHAT BUILD THE CHILD'S "WANT-TO".