Why you shouldn’t stop reading to your son
My husband and I read to our 4 and 6-year-old sons every night. We believe that reading aloud to them helps our boys develop their vocabulary and language skills. We’re also hoping that nightly story time will help foster a love of books. The snuggles are an added bonus.
We’re not alone of course – 91% of parents say they read books aloud to their young kids. But as children begin their primary school journey around age 6, those numbers drop, and fast.
By the time kids are around 9 to 11 years old, most parents stop reading aloud to them – only 17% continue the nightly story time ritual.
So why does this drop in parents reading aloud to their kids matter? When children can read to themselves, isn’t it time for parents to step aside and let them decide what and when to read?
I do believe that encouraging independent reading is important, but not at the expense of reading aloud to our kids.
Here are 5 of the best reasons to read aloud to your older sons (and daughters).
1. It puts the fun back into reading
Fewer children are reading for fun than ever before, and kids are reading less the older they get.
However, research shows that most kids love being read to. Reading aloud to your son helps put the fun back into books. If your son struggles with reading, reading aloud to him can help him get ‘hooked’ on the story, author or genre. Once he ‘falls in love’, he’ll be more likely to push through the challenges associated with reading to get his next literary fix, with or without you.
2. It helps them expand their view of the world
For kids, auditory comprehension is higher than their reading comprehension. When you pick a challenging book, you’re exposing your son to a wealth of new ideas and concepts that he’s emotionally ready for, but can’t necessarily read about on his own. It also provides you with the opportunity to talk with your son about difficult emotions or concepts in an environment where he feels safe and secure.
3. It helps boys develop empathy
There are many theories on boys and their capacity for empathy, but what is undisputed is that boys need to have plenty of opportunities to develop and practise empathy. Books can help boys understand something without experiencing it for themselves. The stories you read to your son help him develop an understanding of humanity and the world around him – the more challenging, the better.
4. It gives your son the gift of imagination
In a world of online gaming, social media and YouTube, where visual imagery is served to kids on a platter, reading aloud to your son presents a rare opportunity for him to flex his imagination muscle. When J.K. Rowling was approached about making the first Harry Potter movie, she told the studio that the film needed to be ‘true to the book’. She wasn’t talking about black text on white pages; she was referring to the magic that millions of young readers had created in their own minds. The studio needed cutting-edge visual effects, talented actors and millions of dollars to achieve what kids had conjured up with nothing but imagination. It’s a powerful free gift you can give to your son.
5. It’s a great way to spend some quality time together
My dad read The Hobbit to me when I was around 10 years old. His Gollum voice used to scare and delight me in equal measure. But what I loved the most was the quality one-on-one time with my dad, and the physical closeness as he read to me. Story time was our special time. Despite all the many benefits of reading aloud to older kids, this is the main reason why I’ll continue to read to my boys (and hopefully grab those precious story time snuggles) for as long as they’ll let me.
Reading Aloud at Home, Scholastic report
The power of reading aloud: not just for babies and little children by Rosemary Johnston
Study: The Number of Teens Reading for Fun Keeps Declining by Charlotte Alter, TIME magazine
Article originally published November 2016.Bec Cavalôt is a Melbourne-based writer and editor, and mum of two boisterous boys. This article is about Parenting
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