Experts Agree: Reading Aloud to Children Does Wonders for Their Behaviour

by Estella Goh
4 years ago

reading aloud to children

Reading aloud is widely recognised as the single most important activity necessary for developing language skills. However, experts now agree that the benefits of reading aloud to children extend beyond academic development.

Behavioural benefits of reading aloud to children 

Recent expert studies such as the Video Interaction Project (summarised by the New York Times) confirms the link between reading aloud to children and how this affects their behaviour. 

It appears that there are significant benefits to be reaped when parents read aloud to their children, and here are some of them.

Extends attention span

Gradually extending time spent on reading aloud to your children will help them develop the ability to maintain full attention for longer periods. In turn, this helps to keep them focused in life.

Experience in unfamiliar situations 

Stories often have the ability to bring readers through a myriad of situations, some of which your children may not experience right away in real life. 

What’s interesting to note is that the experience of encountering these situations in stories and finding conclusion from them will better enable children to react when similar or relatable situations occur in real life.

Manage emotions in a healthier way 

Reading aloud to your children provides back and forth interactions between parent and child as well as many opportunities to communicate about their feelings towards the stories. 

Over time, picking the right books and reading to your children gives them an avenue to discuss and seek guidance on healthier ways to manage or express their feelings.

So, how does one get started when it comes to reading aloud to children (especially with children of different age groups) and what are some things to take note of?

Tips for reading aloud to children of different ages 

To fully reap the benefits of reading aloud to children, you may want to pick stories that you have read, so that you are already aware of the content and whether it can be enjoyable for you and your child.  

Also, read a variety of books that are suitable for the social, emotional and intellectual level of your child to give him exposure to different topics and situations. 

Other than the above general tips, here are some specific tips to help enhance the benefits of reading aloud to children of different ages.

Toddlers & Preschoolers

1. Help your children to settle down before you begin reading by leading them in a calming game or song.

2. Choose books that are colourful, with fonts that are large enough for your children to have clear sight of them. 

3. Choose stories that have repeating ideas to reinforce concepts in your children’s minds.

4. Lead with facial expression and character voices that reflect the emotions of the characters in the story.

5. Pace your reading to ensure that your children are able to follow the flow of the story.

6. Use puppets, props or acting to make your story more interesting.

7. Accept and acknowledge comments during the story-telling but pre-agree with your children to leave questions to the end of the story for better discussion. During such discussion, you can ask questions that spark their interest. 

Older Children

Do not assume that it is best to leave your child to read on their own once they are able to. 

1. Understand your older children’s interests, likes and dislikes before picking stories they are likely to enjoy.

2. Read the title and ask your children questions that will arouse their curiosity.

3. Do some research on the author and/or illustrator and share interesting information about them.

4. Select unfamiliar stories to keep things unknown and interesting.

5. Read books that represents a variety of writing styles.

6. Conduct a quick short summary of portions that have already been read to recollect your children’s thoughts before moving on to other parts of the story.

7. Have your children predict outcomes in the story.

8. Do not impose reading about any specific topic on your children – choose a different story if they are disinterested or pick a better time to read aloud to them. 

9. Encourage your children to verbalise their reactions, thoughts and emotions.

While there are many benefits of reading aloud to children, remember that first and foremost, reading aloud to children gives you the opportunity to bond with them. Keep things enjoyable for both yourself and your children as a priority so that reading does not become a chore and treat anything else as a bonus!