A Few Science-Backed Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Kids

They say, ‘speech is silver, silence is gold.’ Hmmm… not when it comes to reading aloud to our kids. Believe it or not, there are scientific pieces of evidence that back the fact that reading aloud has far more positive implications on kids than silent reading.

A recent research conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) states that reading is the most vital skill for a productive life. So, ditch the silent mode and jump right into loud reading.

Damn! That’s a biggie by itself. Make no mistake, reading aloud does not mean that your voice should be louder than your wife’s labor scream. To entail all the benefits over here, you should read in a proper tone, voice, and volume. Let’s dig into the science-backed benefits of reading aloud to our kids to spread this literacy message as much as possible.

Statistics on Reading Aloud

Before we start off with the benefits, let’s share with you some reports that we have accumulated from reliable sources. A recent report suggests that at least 3 out of 4 parents who have kids under the age of 6 start reading aloud before the child turns one. In 2014, around 30% of the parents followed this practice. Thankfully, this practice spread quickly and saw a boost in the coming years.

In 2016, the numbers shoot up to 60%. However, there was a twist in the tale. Further studies showed that there had been a drop in the number of parents continuing with loud reading after the age of 5. Around this age, most parents feel that kids should read independently by themselves. Sorry to burst the bubble over here. When queried, even kids reported that they wanted to continue being read by their parents.

So, let’s break the age-old myth that older kids can be left alone by themselves. We can read aloud to kids above the age of 5 as well. There is absolutely no rocket science over here. All one needs to do is select age appropriate books for the same. Now, let’s leave statistics behind us and get to the benefits of reading aloud to our kids.

1. Increased Attention Span

The younger the kids, the shorter would be the attention span. From a tiny mosquito to a ringing doorbell, anything and everything can get them distracted in a moment’s notice. Luckily, the short attention span can be combated to a great extent with loud reading — a piece of information backed by science.

Over here, it’s best advised to choose shorter books or books that are highly engaging. In this manner, one can keep the kids engaged until their attention span increases. Also, parents should be persistent with their efforts. In due time, one should be able to introduce longer books as well.

With every reading session, kids will be able to increase their attention span, and over time stay tied up with long stories as well. So, feel free to pull the trigger and start reading aloud to your kids. Once you get started, the rest will eventually fall in place because kids will automatically find themselves in a spot where they are bound to gain from the loud reading routine.

2. Better Grasping

Reading aloud, especially in an engaging manner makes kids understand the subject matter better. They tend to think better and imagine more richly when the text is read loudly to them. As a result, they are able to grasp the information better. Each time we read, a pleasure message is sent to the kid’s brain. So, the magical method of reading aloud to our kids does the trick over here.

Don’t we wish that reading aloud should have been a time-honored tradition? If it were, we would not have been deprived of its benefits. Perhaps, a small bunch of people did know about the merits of reading aloud, but the information stayed restricted to them because there was no Facebook or digital app to spread the word. Luckily, today’s kids won’t have to be deprived of any of the benefits.

3. Better Bonding and Learning

Studies suggest that kids learn better when their parents or any other adult is involved in teaching. Passive learning such as audio or video recording does not have the same effect as adult interaction. Loud reading can even beat the new age forms of passive learning by a landslide.

Studies also show that listening to words gets our emotional brain centers more involved than merely reading. Some research has shown significantly higher brain activities in areas that process visual association, although kids are merely listening with no visual ads.

As long as you aren’t the type of person who creates a ruckus while teaching, you should bond well with your little one. After all, there is substantial evidence that reading aloud can increase parent-kid bonding. Most kids are deliriously happy to hear their parent’s voice.

They appreciate the love bestowed upon them for being a good listener. Remember, you will be killing two birds with one stone. At one end, you will be increasing kid literacy. On the other hand, you will be bonding well with your kid. It’s a no-brainer trade for you.

4. Improved Vocabulary

Research work suggests that reading aloud to our kids improves listening, writing, and speaking skills as well. So, some initial efforts from your end can pay off in a big way. Over a period of time, your little ones would spit out more difficult words.

The chances are that you might be surprised with the improvement in his/her language skills. Yes, students inherit a great deal of learning by the simple act of listening because kids can listen to more complex and difficult words than what they can read.

Think of it as a salesman trying to make sales. The more he calls, the more sales he generates. Similar to the above, the more words your kids are exposed to, the more words they will learn. Moreover, when you read aloud to them, they study what a fluent reader sounds like.

A good reader maintains a proper pace, tone, and volume while reading out the texts. By watching you in the act, kids will absorb how to read properly.

5. Makes Reading More Fun to Kids

Kids usually enjoy being read to, which encourages them to look at reading as a positive and fun oriented exercise. Some kids look forward to the reading session. If parents also maintain the same tempo, the fun factor multiplies. Remember, reading aloud does not cost you a dime. Plus, it’s so much beneficial for your kids. So, it’s definitely worth a shot.

It’s important that you choose the book wisely over here. If you find that a book is written stupidly, it’s best advised to dump it for some other book. If you don’t like the book, the chances are that your kid might not like it too. Therefore, it’s important not to kill the fun factor by choosing badly written books when your little one crawls into your lap.

6. Benefits to Older Kids

Although older kids can read by themselves, they would still love to be read at night. Most parents dump the practice of reading aloud as soon as the kids grow up. It’s often seen as an unnecessary routine by the majority of the parents out there.

What parents must realize that older kids will receive the same benefits over here as the younger ones. So, why deprive them of all the goodness?

So, maintain the cherished routine even your kids grow up. Kids can always learn so much from their parents. Moreover, there are so many good books out there, which older kids won’t pick up on their own. When you read them aloud, they will be an active listener for some amazing books that they might have ignored for all these years.

Reading aloud also improves a kid’s long-term reading success. It has been noticed that kids who are read aloud end up having an upper edge because of the reading ritual. Since it improves their vocabulary, reading, and writing skills, they are bound to perform much better academically.

We all want bright and smart kids, don’t we? It’s completely about intentions and not about luck. So, why miss out on an easy chance and curb the potentially exceeding gains? The power to boost your kid’s future is in your hands.

Results from a Scientific Study

In a study published in an issue of Pediatrics, researchers examined the brains of 19 kids, aged between 3 to 5 years. Using MRI, they scanned all the subject’s brains when they were made to listen to a lady reading them stories. At the same time, the kids were also subjected to background noise.

The researchers wanted to know how their brain responds to different kinds of stimulation. They also gathered information about how frequently the kids had adults reading aloud to them, and if they had access to a variety of books.

MRI Provides Hard Proof

The results were pretty satisfactory from the standpoint that the research was conducted to highlight the benefits of reading aloud to kids.

The MRI reports showed that kids who were exposed to better-quality home reading environments showed a significantly better response in the parts of the brain that processes visual imagination and narrative comprehension when they listened to the readings. As such, further studies are being done on the subject for the sake of improving literacy in kids.

Tips to Keep it Going

  • This may sound like a repeating alarm, but it’s an important tip. So, here we go again. Make sure to come up with a good book to keep the kids engaged and to make them an active listener. Remember, a good book can prove to be a difference maker over here. If you do not like the book, would you be in a position to convince your kids to enjoy the process?
  • If you are stumped for choices, you can let the kids choose the book of their choice. If it fits your wallet, you can purchase the chosen book to kick-start the reading session. A study shows that around 67% of the parents allow their kids up to the age of 5 to choose the book of their choice.
  • Don’t try to throw information down their throat by reading out long passages in a boring manner. As much as it’s important to choose the right book, it’s equally important to choose a short book when starting off. Begin with mini-lessons that are short in size to keep them attentive at class. Before they doze off, you will be done with your session.
  • If prior knowledge of the related subject is required, it’s better to put up with the grind in advance to ensure that the reading happens flawlessly. One can use Google or any other search engine to research the subject. A well-planned reader is bound to impress the audience. So, be prepared with your best shot to keep the kids hooked to your reading.
  • Audiobooks are a great option for parents with time constraints or those who are not quite comfortable at reading out aloud.

Conclusion

As you can see, the benefits of reading aloud are plentiful. So, let your tongue be the weapon of literacy. With science backing the benefits of reading aloud to kids, there should be absolutely no reason to back off.

Just make sure that you don’t stop too early because industry experts state that it would prove to be a costly mistake. From encouraging kids to read independently to the fear of losing the tradition of bedtime stories, many reasons were cited for premature quitting. Studies have shown that nearly 10 million kids struggle with basic reading in their schools.

Parents should rest all their apprehensions to ensure that their kids are not immune to all the benefits of being read aloud. There is absolutely no need to fear over here. Reading aloud at random hours will not harm the tradition of bedtime stories.

Nothing can replace the charm and joy of bedtime stories. It’s going to be there forever. Think of reading aloud as an essential lifeline for your kids that generates literacy, happiness, and a better future. With such compelling reasons forcing you to take action, the resistance will automatically meltdown.

    Sandra Cobain
     

    Mum of two. Child psychologist. Ardent admirer of art, crafts and cooking. She is the head of content for BestForTheKids. When she's not busy crafting posts & researching about compelling content ideas, she can be spotted playing outdoors with her two adorable children.

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