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101 Comments

  1. What an awesome article, Kelly! With two children five years apart I can identify with much of what you say. My children have both been spelling bee winners in their small school. After one of their wins, I had a teacher ask me, “what do you do to make them so good at spelling?!” I answered simply and truthfully, that I read to them! My son was done being read to by 2nd grade, my daughter and I read together until she was in 5th-6th grade. Our family does audio books for trips to school and road trips. Make reading a priority and your kids will reap the benefits!!

  2. Kasandra Kurutz says:

    I LOVE this! I have always read to my boys every night before bed. I made it a priority because I knew how much they liked it. Even as infants I read to them. When my oldest was old enough to read chapter books on his own, we read the Percy Jackson series taking turns reading chapters. I enjoy it as much as they do. There have been times where I was just too tired, it happens, and I let them know and read longer the next night. I have always felt very strongly about it, nice to hear that it really is as important as I feel it is. I am an avid reader myself, my oldest started out that way and he was reading on his own, but that kind of fell off at some point. After reading this though I may approach him about reading a book together again and see what he thinks (he is 15)… It’s worth a shot!!
    Thanks for this blog entry!

    1. Ever since middle school, I ask what the assigned reading is for my daughter’s Language Arts Class and I read it myself so we can discuss and have a mini book club. It is one small way I can relate!

  3. Madiha Khan says:

    This is the tried and tested truth… reading aloud everyday does wonders. Thanks for this reminder as my eldest is 6 years old and she has now started to read really well so lately I started to take a back seat… tonight she urged me to read to her..Thank God I did..I must continue to do so:)

  4. This is so true! I used to watch educational shows and read so much as a child! Looking back, I think that’s what made me ace my school exams year after year, beating out the entire class every time.

  5. thank you!! There are many days it feels like I do nothing right and literally the only thing I feel like I did was read to my kids at bedtime so it is so good to hear that that is actually important :0)

  6. Thank you for this. We needed the reminder and we needed the tips. Going to start reading at dinner time for now, along with a basket of books at the table and keeping the check marks on a calendar (hmmm – wonder if I can find anyone to help make those marks each day, which will help their dexterity, understanding of time, and accountability/accomplishment – – is this that cascade of events you were talking about?)

  7. I read a study once that people who read together synchronize their heartbeats, brain waves, and breathing. And more synchronization leads to more mutual regard and cooperation. How cool is that?! I’ve been reading aloud with my kids every day for the last ten years. (And I mean during the day in addition to bedtime reading). One hour is the goal. Sometimes it’s less. Sometimes it’s more.

    We have a wide range of ages from baby to 10 and book selection is never an issue for us. My ten-year-old is happy with board books. My five-year-old is happy with Boxcar Children, Charlotte’s Web and Wizard of Oz. I think when it’s done consistently kids develop a strong team spirit about the whole experience and it’s not so much about what book it is as just enjoying being together. (Plus, they know they will get their own book read at bedtime).

  8. My kids are young, so I stopped expecting them to sit and cuddle with me every time, and instead let them climb on the couch and play with their toys in their laps or the floor while they listen. I read somewhere that movement actually helps kids learn, so they actually retain it more if they’re working on a puzzle or craft or swinging in a swing…Plus, they enjoy it more, and so do I! The only rule: they can’t climb on me. :)

    1. Each hominid offspring is somewhat different and this can be seen just after birth. when our son was come ad delivered to me moments after birth, for a second & then cleaned & returned to me; when I faced one way -his face was to the aisle and foot of Judys bed and when the other way, he faced a window - there was a profound difference in in face and his demeanor. To the wall = more squirm and frown; facing the window brought sort of smile and calm curious gaze. Friend video in delivery room displayed different behavior. As both my mother & her mother read to me from my infancy; I developed a love for reading. I was outgrowing “Golden Books” (c) (r) while other kids had just started or somewhere along the line of reading them. One of my grammar school friends felt that fifteen minutes at the local branch of the Free Library, one block away, was pure punishment. For yours truly, over a half hour was a powerful prize.

  9. Well, I can see that I really need to buckle down and read to my son more. Several times a week is not cutting it because he seems to have some trouble settling down to pay attention. I need to help him learn to focus and listen. The kid is very high maintenance. A normal book doesn’t work as well with him. He is more inclined to look at (although briefly) a book with pull tabs, when if pulled,the animals open their eyes or flap wings and so forth. I’ll strive for everyday now.

  10. Great Article.. 20 years ago I didn’t know this was a “Keystone Habit” but I knew it had a lot of important benefits.. I also found out that entering kindergarten (at that time) that they were expected to count to 100, and a bar far raised from my childhood with other expectations.
    My daughter developed a love of books, a stronger connection and bonding with me. I miss that nightly ritual.
    It may has been the number one thing I did right as a parent regardless of how tired I was..
    Today I can report I have a highly compassionate daughter in her junior year with an almost 4.0.
    I can’t take credit, it was that nightly ritual of reading.. it was the books.
    What a pleasure and joy for me to what what happens in next in my beautiful successful daughters life.
    And boy is she kind. My main job as a parent was to help develop a generous good person??

  11. LOVE this article!! I’m a kindergarten teacher of 26 years and also a mom of twin boys (who are now 20) that I read to even when they were in middle school. I emphasize to my kindergarten parents each year how important this ONE simple and enjoyable thing is. I’d love to print this – do you know if there’s any way to just get the text without the ads so that I could share with my parents and other teachers?

    1. Hi Tammie, sure I can put that together for you! Can you email me here? https://happyyouhappyfamily.com/contact/

      The ads are how I get compensated for my work in researching this piece and writing it, but I understand that as a teacher, it’s hard to share a link with all your students’ families. :-)

      1. I am also a K teacher and would also love this article! Can you tell me where I can get it without the advertisements? Thanks so much!!

  12. I still read aloud every evening to my 7 and 9 year old. We’re out of traditions picture books and reading the gorgeous illistrated Harry Potter books at the moment. Our routine is that we each take turn one night picking a book, including me the parent! And I’ve always said Sorry kids I’m not rereading the same book twice in a row… so I’ve always enjoyed our evening reads:-) I gradually learned to let go and read with voices and have gotten better at it!

  13. I try to read to my children every day. Since my son and I are fast eaters and my daughter isn’t I found that dinnertime is a great time for reading. When I finished my meal, I start to read. That way we can continue to sit down together. Otherwise the boy runs off to do something else and I start doing the dishes or something and the girl is left alone with her food.
    Sometimes we move to the couch and read more after everybody is finished and the kids have (gladly) put away everything from the table while listening to me.
    Since they are only two years apart (10&12), there has never been a problem finding books that appeal to both of them. We are reading the Harry Potter books now but sometimes I take a break from them to read something else. It’s quite exhausting to to read and finish a book with several hundred pages, only to start another one even thicker! Therefore I enjoy mixning it up with shorter ones from a different genre. I have made it clear that we all have to enjoy the books for it to be fun.
    I love going to the library looking for new encounters and I would love to have my children getting the same feeling. When they choose books to read in school they pick titles I wouldn’t and that’s great! At home, my son only reads Donald Duck which I think is kind of a waste, but as long as he is reading I try not to interfere. Reading is a joy and who am I to decide what others should feel joy with?

  14. Thanks so much for this breakdown of not only the importance of reading out loud, but also ways to help with all the stumbling blocks! I will be sharing this with the parents of my three and four year olds in my weekly email which I always close with “Have a great week and remember to read every day to your child!”

  15. Fawzia Salahuddin says:

    Amazing article Kelly. Loved every single sentence and especially the ‘How to fix it’ section. Fabulously written and so so important! God bless.

  16. The books I love to read the most are ones that can be sung!!! And my grandchildren love them! The first book I ever sang to my grandson was “The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin” and I’m sure you can guess the melody! He just turned three and it is still his favorite book!

  17. Please suggest good beginning chapter books. My 6 yr old grandson is ready for more complicated stories and loves Captain Underpants…but I am not a fan. The language used is considered “inappropriate” in his public school so I don’t want to model/encourage that vocabulary.

    1. Have you tried the Magic Treehouse books by Mary Pope Osbourne? I think they make good beginner chapter books. Other favourites of mine are the Paddington books by Michael Bond, Ramona, Henry Higgins and other books by Beverley Cleary, the Ghosthunter series by Cornelia Funke, Harry the Poisonous Centipede series by Lynne Reid Banks, Pippi Longstocking books by Astrid Lindgren. Many of the books I’ve mentioned are oldies but goodies and have aged well. Also, a visit to your local library and a chat with the children’s librarian there can provide lots of choice at no cost to you.

      1. Paige Kelley says:

        Other “oldies” (not as well known) that my children loved are by Edward Eager. We began with “Half Magic,” written in 1954, and went on from there. They are great for read-aloud, but our first introduction was Half Magic on audio tape in the car. (Yes, it’s been a while) It had my kids laughing hysterically. I even checked it out to use with a young developmentally and physically disabled adult I occasionally cared for at home. He was stuck watching his mother’s shows every day he didn’t go to “school.” He enjoyed it also.

    2. You can order from your local bookstore the nature books written by THORNTON BURGESS. Each book is about a specific animal. Also, I had a horrible time getting my son to read until we found THE ADVENTURES OF TIN TIN. There are about 12 books in that series and he read them every night until he left home!!! And had them memorized with a different voice for each character.

  18. Awesome article. I read a LOT to my own daughter, and dozens of day care kids. I would love to read to my grandbabies every day, but they are too far away. I’d appreciate some suggestions to make reading to them over social media/video/youtube in a manner that is at least somewhat personal..

    1. Mimi – When my granddaughter was younger, I also had the desire to read to her more than just when she and her family came for a visit. They live several states away so visits only consisted of maybe 3-4 times a year. I was able to find a fairly inexpensive portable cassette recorder/player. I bought myself one and one just like it for my granddaughter. Then I purchased a few books I thought she would enjoy. I recorded myself reading the books to her, telling her about the cover of the book so she would know which one I was going to read (because at this time she wasn’t reading yet). Then as I read the book, when I finished a page, I would say her name and tell her to turn the page now. I would send the books and the cassette tapes to her in the mail. My daughter said she would listen to them for hours while she played in her room. I would also sing kids songs on the cassettes so she could learn them. As she got older, I would just record me reading the book and send the tape to her and she loved listening to them before she fell asleep at night. This activity turned out to be very special for her and for me.

  19. My children are grown now, but I used to read 2 books a day to each of them (2 children). They each chose a book for nap time and another at bedtime. We went to the library and not only did they choose books they liked, I picked out a lot of children’s books that looked good to me. I checked about 40 at a time. Some librarians balked, but I explained I read 4 a day to them. I also took books like the James Herriot books to read as we traveled. At this time there were no videos to play in your car. Videos, I think are a bane to society–it makes for less interaction between parents and their children and tells them that they have to be entertained in a structured way instead of interacting with their parents and vice versa. Reading with my children was my favorite time of day.

  20. Excellent, well written and informative article! We will state on our social media accounts and with our parents and pediatricians!

  21. Ken Johnson says:

    Students who skip Kindergarten or miss 10% of school in K or 1st Grade have an 80% chance of not reading at grade level in 3rd Grade.
    If you are below grade level in 3rd Grade, students have an 80% chance of not graduating from high school.
    NY uses its 3rd Grade Chronic Absentee Rate (missing 10% of school) to predict the number of prison beds needed in the future.

    1. How heartbreaking that knowledge is. Somehow I believe that instead of creating prison beds they could instead put more money in to connecting with those children and perhaps creating programs where adults read to them in safe caring environments. Then instead of prison cells waiting for those children, they could have connected, productive lives (I do realize that you are just relaying this info).

  22. Clare Tubby says:

    Great article. I have always read to my babies, who are now fully grown successful adults! Now I care for other people’s children I do the same, in fact I go one step further and send a reading book and a record book home every week, in a dedicated book bag, for parents and siblings and anyone who cares to, to read to the child. The record book encourages parents to comment on their child’s enjoyment of the book, enabling me to select books which I know the family will enjoy. I value reading, and now so do the families for whom I care.

  23. Great article!! I read to my 5 year old every day before rest time and bed time and we love it. We read to my 13 year old when he was younger too, but now he Hates reading. He has to read and take tests on it to earn a certain amount of AR points for school and I’d like your opinion if you have a moment. Do you think an audiobook would have the same amount of benefits as reading the physical book? He already has trouble spelling, so I’m worried it would put him behind on that.
    Thank you for your article! Our school shared it on their page!

  24. Another idea that has worked for me and my 4 sons is an idea I call bump reading. I simply take turns reading with that child whatever book they’re reading. They say bump when they want me to read and I can bump it back to them whenever I’m ready.

  25. Love, love, love reading to my kids. I read to my eldest virtually from birth until he was 13/14 years old. He would often have 2-3 books on the go plus one with me. We read through many series and still chat about books together. Now we both make recommendations to each other. He was an easy child to read to: listened attentively, with few questions during the reading & good discussions after.

    My second child I also read to from birth, and still read to her (she is 12 and she now always has her own book on the go in addition to whatever we are reading together). She was not quite as easy a child to read to. She moved a lot and always had tons of questions when small. I really had to change my style for her. I learned a lot of patience. Sometimes before answering her question, I would ask her to wait until I got to the bottom of the page and if she still had the question then I would stop and answer it. Most times that was all that was needed. I guess she is impatient to know what happens next. I believe delaying an answer taught her that sometimes waiting for the information to come was its own reward. But questions of word definitions or clarification of something that just happened I would address either right away or at the end of the sentence.

    She is still a mover and I find allowing her to doodle/draw as I read helps her follow the story better. I also now read to her during bath time. That also helps timewise (she loves her baths) and she can play quietly with the water and toys while I read which also settles her. I also spent more time doing interactive books with her (I Spy books, Where’s Waldo, Richard Scarry books etc). The doing and talking about what we saw, what else we could find or see in the picture provided a good balance for her restless nature. She is super sharp at seeing things and enjoyed finding things first and at times pointing them out to me.

  26. I loved this article! I’m such a big fan of reading aloud to my kids. One more tip, that you didn’t include, for dealing with reading the same book over and over again…. is to slightly change things in the story. My kids find it hilarious when I change the names of the characters in the books, either to their own names, or to something silly. Also, it keeps them on their toes and hanging off every word, waiting to catch you out on the changes, especially if it is a book that they know of by heart.

  27. Love this! 1,000 books before kindergarten is a great way to make sure you’re reading with your little one- you add a stamp to the paper for every book you read and every 500 books read, you’re child gets a prize from the library. Completely free to participate!

    Also, my mom read us 4 kids 1 chapter per night before bed. If we were good (homework done, teeth brushed, no whining, etc.), we got to stay up a little later to hear the next chapter! I remember loving the story but also getting excited I didn’t have to go to bed quite yet.

  28. joan mcisaac says:

    Great article! Keeping it simple is so simple. Thank you!

  29. Read the book The Reading Promise. It will inspire you. You forget the most important thing of all. Reading aloud connects you intimately with your child in a soul to soul encounter that says you and me and an adventure together. It is an investment of two hearts knitting together. The other stuff is the frosting.

  30. There really isn’t an age limit to reading out loud. My mom read regularly to both me and my brother, who is 4 years older. Sometimes the books were a bit above my understanding, or attention level (we both begged her to skip the council of Elrond in Lord of the Rings, which she did) but I got cuddles and got to be included. Then later, as a woman in my late twenties, my uncle got me “Where’s my Cow” a picture book inspired by the Discworld novel series, because I love that series. I, as a fully grown woman, made him sit down and read it out loud to me. He was puzzled, but obliged and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

    I also contribute the regular reading to me for my spontaneous ability to read myself, which I did in kindergarten. My mom, amazed, asked my teacher if they were already teaching us to read and my teacher said no. My mom maintains that I got it from watching Sesame Street, which probably helped, but was more likely being read to. I don’t remember learning how to sound out words, or concentrating on single letters and piecing things together–just all of a sudden the symbols made sense. I’m guessing it was me following along while my mom read.

  31. Hi
    Could you please share with me the research references that are referred to in this great article. I would love to dig deeper.
    Thanks
    Ben

    1. Hi Ben, all the research referenced in the article is linked from within the article itself. Just look for the blue links, then click for the details behind each point. Hope that helps!

  32. Molly A Mahoney says:

    I wonder if reading out loud to children would yield the same results as reading to baby goats.

  33. Susan Rogers says:

    Hi. Thank You for your article. I enjoyed it very much (especially without pop ups or too many adverts). Some days I try to wake my kiddo up early and we read in bed before getting up and getting ready for school. He’s in first grade. He LOVES books and to read with me. I’ve been reading to him since he was super small. The local library where we lived at the time had a program called “1000 Books Before Kindergarten”. He started that program at three and one week before he started Kindergarten he completed it. He stuck with it for two years. We would read all the time and spend days at the library picking out new books all the time. We have also developed quite the library ourselves which is great too. We have listened to books on tape in the car. The Magic Treehouse and Humphre which are older books for him but he loves the story. There are so many good ideas here. I’m going to have to try some of them to mix things up a bit. Thank You.

  34. Naomi Smith says:

    Yes, a great article. But why don’t we see a diverse group of photos? All of the photos are of white children, except for a pair of legs. I am asking the publishers to reflect on this and use their website to be inclusive of children and families of color.

    1. Hi Naomi, thank you for sharing your perspective. To be clear, I am a mom, not a publishing company. Also, it may be helpful to know that I am not a photographer, so I have to purchase what’s called “stock photos” from a company that provides photos that are available to license for a web site like mine. (You can’t just use any photo online because it is copyrighted material, so you have to purchase a license to use the photos you want to publish with your writing.)

      I *always* try to look for diversity in the photos I add to my articles. This is an issue that is VERY important to me. But in some situations, there just isn’t as much variety in the stock photos available to me to choose from. In this case, I had spent hours scrolling through thousands of stock photos of children reading, and I wasn’t able to find a wide variety of photos that fit the article. The lack of diversity in stock photos is a well-known and discussed issue among bloggers, but unfortunately I don’t have the power to change the photos that are available to purchase.

      A large publishing company like a news site would have access to many different stock photo sites, with hundreds of thousands of photos to choose from. But I have to pay for every stock photo site I use, so I use one site and get my stock photos from what they have available. Hopefully that helps explain the challenge of this issue. I will continue to look for diversity in the stock photos I use, but please understand that I share your frustration with the current situation.

  35. Paige Kelley says:

    I just ended my last year of homeschooling, and my extremely dyslexic, slow processing, ADD youngest child is in the Honors college at an excellent university. Reading to him from an early age is a major reason why he LOVES to read, and has been so successful…but not the only reason. I didn’t know he was dyslexic until well after kindergarten, but my husband and I love books, and we fostered the love of reading in our three children before they were even capable of reading on their own. Yes, we read books aloud, snuggling with our sweet little ones, but they also watched us reading, had free access to beautiful picture books in their rooms, enjoyed our family hunts for special book treasures at yard sales, and giggled together over audio books on car trips. The younger two watched the older sibling’s voracious reading habits, and of course, they wanted to follow in big brother’s footsteps. For a time, I homeschooled all three, (the youngest fo 12 years) and the curriculum for the two youngest had recommended readers to read on their own, as well as read-alouds. The read-alone books were high interest, and my 8 yr old, 2nd grade youngest, who had received tutoring, and had been struggling to read up until this point, suddenly took off reading. The read-aloud books had my two begging for more, even after an hour of reading. I continued the read-alouds into middle school, (as the article recommends) sometimes incorporating an “indoor picnic” on a blanket in our family room, eating the food from the era in the book during the reading time. My children still remember those times fondly. My youngest had extensive testing for his learning disabilities at the end of 10th grade, and the testers said that normally with someone with his high degree of dyslexia, they would recommend reading therapy…but my son didn’t need it. For years, he has carried his Kindle in his pocket wherever he goes- so he can read if there’s any opportunity to do so. His story proves that dyslexia doesn’t condemn a child to a life of hating to read. (It’s still more difficult, but it’s worth it to him.)

    Also, if you have a child who just can’t focus, my youngest is the ultimate ADD candidate- in first grade, he couldn’t hold more than one instruction at a time in his head, and I could only do schooling in 15-20 minute increments. However, his focus on anything always improved with cuddling him firmly next to my side. Not every child enjoys cuddling (my always-busy oldest didn’t) but you can find what works for your own child. Often they don’t look like they’re paying attention…but they probably are.

  36. I read to my 2 year old every night before bed. He knows he gets 2 stories to pick no matter what. Sometimes, if we’re early with bedtime he even gets 3! My husband isn’t a confident reader but most nights it’s actually my husband that does the reading. I’m currently on mat leave with number 2 so we read plenty during the day together. Not only does he benefit but the baby sits and listens most of the time too!

  37. I was once reading to my kids at a local diner-type restaurant, and the older couple in the adjoining booth stopped their conversation and got drawn into the story too. Everyone love a good story!

  38. Great article! Thanks for sharing the reasoning behind why it’s important and how to get past the reasons it doesn’t happen. I know I do it less than I intend to or probably even realize I do! I’m curious if you think listening to audio books together has all the same benefits.

  39. Beginners love beautiful ARTWORK in their storybooks.
    Judith Viorst Alexander stories are so good for boys AND girls…FUNNY
    !
    Shel Silverstein’s 4 or 5 books of poems are one laugh after another!

    Charlotte Zolotow, her daughter Crescent Dragonwagon, Tomie De Paleo, Mary Hoban, Steven Kellogg are just a few of our favorites and sure winners.

    Thanks for your article! It’s all true. Wonderful how you broke it down in age group friendly sections for the growing child.

    This truly works! We did it for fun, because of my love of books, but ended up with two very smart girls and voracious readers.

  40. Teresa Schwingel says:

    Great article! It’s full of superb information shared in a clear, concise way! I shared the link with the parents of my second graders!

  41. When my kids were little I would read aloud to them when they were in the tub because there was never enough time to do everything. Now as a grandmother I read to my grandkids and it’s my favorite thing to do with them. They inspired me to write my own children’s book as well. If you’re looking for a great read-aloud, download Puppy Pickup Day on Kindle FREE.

  42. Susan Swayze says:

    Most of the reasons for not reading to one’s child centered on the “me”…..”i” this, and “i” that….it’s about the child, not the parent.

    1. Susan, thank you for adding your perspective! Typically, it’s the parent who is the gating factor for how much read-aloud time happens. These are the obstacles parents have said are holding them back from more reading aloud, so those are the obstacles I wanted to address in this post. I’m sure everyone agrees that reading aloud time is about the child and beneficial for the child, so my goal was to help remove the barriers to that happening more often. :-)

  43. Thanks for posting this…may I share some of the content in presentations?

  44. Great article. My kids are now grown and reading was an important part of OUR lives, as was opening conversations about money. We teach our kids manners and basic hygiene – yet rarely do we talk about money, yet reading and money go hand and hand.
    Would love to share our book w you, it’s on Amazon or I can send you a pdf copy anytime.
    ‘Money Monster or Money Master- Teach Your Kids the Basics of Money and Love Every Minute’ is the title!

  45. Great article! Thanks a lot for sharing

  46. David Bogardus says:

    We’ve been blessed to have kids who have all been avid readers from a very early age, no doubt helped by being read to from infancy on up. One suggestion: Start as early as you can to get your kids to read to you. It will help their reading ability and their pronunciation, and they will eventually learn to read with expression, and perhaps even dramatic flair (not that that is important, but it can make reading aloud more fun). When my daughter was in junior high, I asked her to read aloud to me, and she did with no difficulty, but it was in a flat, expressionless monotone. So I read a bit to her, with expression, to highlight the difference. Then I handed her an engineering technical journal article and asked her to read it aloud. She did so, with feigned interest and great zeal, making the first time I had ever heard her read aloud with expression! It was wonderful. I love to be read to, and my daughter and I have gone on many walks together, where she read aloud to me from her favorite books, while we walked together. Even one of my grown sons and I have made many round-trip walks to and around distant parks, while taking turns reading aloud to one-another. Examples of books we’ve read aloud, completely, to one another: “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S.Lewis and “The Bromeliad Trilogy”, by Terry Pratchett.

  47. Very well written! I love your suggestions for fixes to obstacles to reading aloud.

  48. Very well written. I loved your suggestion for overcoming obstacles to read alouds.

  49. I read to my children from the day they came home from the hospital. Both my children love to read now as adults. As kids, we would read every evening before bedtime. By Kindergarten, my daughter was reading chapter books. When I asked what they wanted to do on a Saturday, they would say, lets go to the library and get new books. Reading not only helps with spelling but writing skills. Both my children were always advanced in these areas. Both my children were at the top of their class, one was Valedictorian, the other Salutatorian of their graduating class.

  50. Great article, Kelly. I’m a mom of three, ages 33, 31, and 28, and a nonna of two. I bought two editions of The Read-Aloud Handbook during my child rearing years—one in the ‘80s and one in the 90s. I read aloud to my children long after they could read to themselves. The older ones were still listening when I was reading to the youngest.we read entire series of books. The Chronicles of Narnia are great read aloud. I’m also a retired teacher of history and literature. I always read aloud to my classes the first chapter of every novel we studied. It’s great for setting the tone of the story and capturing student interest, and they loved it. You are spot on with how reading aloud builds vocabulary, listening skills, and empathy. Keep reminding parents of the importance of reading to their kids. I would also add playing board games, too. They teach so many skills!

  51. Do you have any more recommended books

  52. ?? I am a high school English teacher we are focusing on literacy in our.school because many of our kids are below grade level in reading. Parents we need your help. PLEASE read to your kids.

  53. my daughter is 7 and i have read to her every night since the day she was born, i think we have only missed a handful of nights and that’s when she is having sleepovers… at her age she is now reading well above her age, we are currently reading a childs atlas so that she can broaden her reading capabilities and her knowledge… and i must say, she is definitely a kind person…

  54. Yes, yes, yes! Great article, thanks for sharing your personal experiences and back up information.

    Check out Read-Aloud Revival for great podcasts, readling lists, reading tips, etc. Reading to my kids is my favorite thing to do with them and they like it too. They are 4th and 6th grade now. I’m loosely starting a habit of Sunday night picture books, because you are never too old for pictures books and because some of the most important topics we need to be addressing can be covered more easily by reading a picture book together. Also because it is a throw back to stories that connected us when they were younger.

    We listen to audio books in the car sometimes and I feel like a lot of the good connection still happens even if I’m not the reader. I read to them while they eat or play Lego or draw/color.

  55. Paul Dawson says:

    The article has a simplistic statement….”being smart”………linked to “keystone habit’….linked to reading as the solution……..raising smart kids involves many activities, mostly involving parent interaction, than are provided in this simplistic , tabloid like article.

  56. Hi Kelly. Your article and information is so important and very affirming to me. Although my children are now 39 and 35 I, as a life long reader, began reading to them the day after we got home from the hospital. We read daily and, by the time she was 4, my daughter was reading herself but we continued to read together for many years. I always sat and read to my son and daughter during rain and thunderstorms, even snowstorms so they associated bad weather with the comfort of reading a good book with a cup of tea or hot chocolate not fear.
    My only concern is that, while you use the words she or her and your child I did not notice the male pronoun he used at all. Perhaps I missed it but I did read the article twice. Male children are just as important as female aren’t they??? I certainly think so.
    Thank you for your consideration to this matter as well as your excellent article,
    Erica

  57. I read to my grandkids when they eat – they eat better because they are distracted by the book. It gives us a chance to talk about the book because we’re accomplishing two tasks at once. You can appeal to all ages at once.

  58. Christine says:

    Unlike a lot of people, any reading isn’t necessarily, the books have to be quality. When the kids were younger good books made us want to read. I love the Five in a Row series, and the discussion that follows is great. Finding good chapter book series helps when they get older.

  59. Julie Behnke says:

    Great advice! I read to my son through middle school. Now, as a 4th grade teacher, I read aloud to my students everyday. And, they love it.

  60. Expanding vocabulary is one of the many objectives I try to achieve with my daughter. However, more and more books today contain made-up words that sound silly and/or the author tries to describe how a certain type of noise should sound (and spelt). A couple of those words are okay but when almost every page has some of these then that book becomes tiring, without added advantage. Indeed, our time is precious so if we’re gonna spend our time reading then i’d rather be reading full, actual words that do exist. Instead of reading words that do not exist in the real world, made-up solely to describe fictitious characters to achieve a nice rhyming continuity. (You know, rhyming books). Fictitious characters with weird names are great, but objects too? That’s not ideal to expand vocabulary. Can anyone point out the advantages in reading non-existent words to a 4-year old? I had to emphasize to her that the word is a made-up word only found in the story.

  61. Liz Vincent says:

    We used to read aloud as a family! Sometimes, the kids would be in charge, sometimes the parents. We made regular weekly trips to the library and would choose a book to read aloud to the group. Of course, that was after every child had learned to read. When they were very young, reading a book was part of our every-night bedtime routine. Both of my kids became teachers, and now they’re carrying on that reading routine in their own households! In fact, my grandchild’s preschool teacher recently said, “Your child picks out a book from our bookshelf and sits down on the floor and ‘ reads’ it!” ( making up the story because the child is only two years old). When my grandchild’s mother was a fourth grader, she was reading at a twelfth-grade level! Reading aloud definitely has an impact on comprehension and vocabulary.

  62. We appreciate the value of reading aloud to our children and know it helps them become interested readers themselves, as children learn through mimicry. We, too, are busy parents but have found that if we have read aloud just before bed, we are always able to fit it in. It’s part of the expected routine, which helps us ensure it gets one. Our son is now 16 but we read aloud to him until he was about 10-11 years old. Our almost-7 year old daughter enjoys picking books out at the library every two-three weeks, which keeps our books changing and helps us find series that we love.

  63. Great article. As a single mother of one, I would come home exhausted and my son would need attention. As an avid reader myself, it was a no brainer to curl up on the couch with him and read to him. Nothing was more pressing than this time. We also read at bedtime. I started reading to my son by 3 months of age and at five he tested with the vocabulary of a 19 year old. Can’t support this enough. I look forward to grandchild to read to!!

  64. There’s one interesting omission here, and while it’s subtle, it’s profound. You’ve used the words ‘she’, ‘her’ and ‘herself’ several times in the article, but never ‘he’, ‘him’ or ‘himself’. This could be just because you’re talking about your own children, but I think it’s telling in and of itself. I think we forget that we need to read to our boys too, to foster closeness, kindness, vocabulary and empathy.

  65. So important. I loved having my dad read to me and tell us as children magical stories at bedtime of the adventures of Peter and Paula Pixie. Super proud that he’s turned these stories into several children’s books. His first book ‘Peter Pixie Visits the Rescue Centre’ has just been published and I can’t wait to read it to my daughter when she’s old enough.

  66. A wonderful post! I see a marked difference in the way children from families that read and families that don’t learn, and understand. I hope your post helps more parents make reading a daily activity.

  67. Regarding #4. My child won’t sit still.

    If my almost-two-year-old son wiggles out of my lap and starts running around while I was trying to read to him, I’ll finish reading the book aloud to him anyway. He may be distracted and looking at something else, but he can still here me read (and is hopefully still listening)!

  68. I went to a workshop by a reading expert who was teaching homeschool parents about reading – she said, “They’re never too young, they’re never too old – read to them.” It helps in so many, many ways. It does build vocabulary, and parents can read books that are interesting to kids that would be above the kids reading level- so kids are being introduced to books at their interest level that they could not necessarily read for themselves. This helps to build a love of reading, a love of books, a desire to read. And if kids read well – they will be able to learn anything.

  69. Felicia Barra says:

    Is there any way I can print this article to share with my 1st grade parents?

  70. Felicia Barra says:

    Is there any way I can get a printable copy of this to share with my 1st grade parents?

  71. A second mind developer that is really a ‘must do’ and that has many benefits for many years later in many ways; from compassion for others to developing an awareness for finesse in many areas. It is also so much easier to do, now. Inexpensive, and even done while engaging in other activities. {P.s. when doing things with your little child-children being towed along you can also add to the reading experience : Read labels and directions so they can here you. Read a poster or similar notice and point to the few words. “PLEASE CLOSE THE DOOR” “EMERGENCY EXIT”} Expose them to foreign language sounds, even without translating. It will help develop an ear for vocal sounds that are not a part of their normal language Many examples here: FLIED LICE, ROTS A RUCK. COR-da-ba versus cor-DO-ba. BE-tza versus PE-tza

  72. Lynn Smith says:

    So very true!! I read to my daughter even before she was born. I was getting my Master’s in English at the time and read Shakespeare and Chaucer to her in the womb (usually so that I could stay awake!!!). We read to her daily as she grew up and she is now Dr. Smith and still reads for pleasure every night.

  73. In 1992 I became pregnant with multiple son. Every night I read Green Eggs and Ham to him in the womb. I had read that reading aloud to a fetus was calming. My husband thought I was crazy as he fell asleep listening. When we came home, scared and excited we didn’t know what to do when he became fussy, he was fed, dry, etc. So, I began quoting the book he’d heard every night, immediately he calmed down and soon was back to sleep.
    I read to both my children every day. They are both smart, compassionate adults now.

  74. Love the article! My friend who taught 3rd grade for years always told me that reading aloud to kids is THE best way to help them become good readers.

  75. My grand daughter is 2 yr and lives with us. I try to read to her but she just keeps turning the page forward & backward and I’m not even able to get through the page let alone the book. Sometimes, she just takes the book out of my hand and flips the pages. It’s very frustrating.

  76. I agree with the content that you are sharing. Could you please provide the journal articles that you are basing your article on?

  77. Laura Brown says:

    Our rule for repeated readings was once a day by a single person. If you could find someone else to read it, great! There were even rare occasions when we hopped into the car to go visit Grandma and Grandpa so *they* could read the book, too.

    And one more thank you to my mom, for reading me all of The Jungle Books and all of the Just So Stories, as well as many, many chapter books in addition to the hundreds of picture books we got from the library by the time I got to school. We weren’t well off, but Mom gave us an education through reading well beyond that of many of our peers!

  78. Bett Huffaker says:

    Thank you for this article. Reading aloud has been pivotal in my life. My mother read aloud to us into our teens. I was a teenager when my adult sisters came home to help my mother with her spring cleaning. One brought a novel and we took turns reading aloud while the others worked. With my own children, we read picture books until the age of 7. That year, for each of the three, we read the Hobbit and the entire Chronicles of Narnia together. By the end, they were hooked on novels. The other kids listened in, so the oldest heard it three times. When my kids were young I listened to audiobooks of my own choosing while I did housework, knowing the kids would hear it as well. Redwall by Brian Jacques in audio caught my son’s imagination. The book is read by the author and involves multiple British accents – different for each type of character. This twelve-year-old son fell in love with the story and went from “I won’t read anything that doesn’t have pictures” to 300-page novels as long as they were written by Jacques. He has since branched out.

  79. Incredible article! I am a retired teacher who had studied the statistical analysis comparing results of school success for those who were read to daily versus those who weren’t. At the time I was just a student with no tangible evidence the stats were true. Fast forward a few years after I had been teaching in settings known as inner city schools with diverse cultures, social and economic diversities etc.. I began to dutifully record on charts those students who had been read to daily, faithfully returning honestly signed back and forth books versus those who did not. Over time as I did this month after month and year after year almost without exception ( there were a very few exceptions) those who honestly participated in the daily reading program were succeeding better in most academic and social levels than those who did not. I was amazed! Lightbulb moments! Stats were right! I knew it was challenging especially for some households to do all this 15. minutes per day reading assignments so during interviews I suggested other ways they could share the value and experience of reading with their children….read signs in stores while shopping, make and read lists together, leave them love notes, read the milk carton or cereal boxes, have books and magazines readily visible in the home. Another stat I read indicated that having at least 20 or more books visible in the home makes a difference. It shows reading is important to you, if they see you reading a book, scriptures, newspapers etc it impacts and leaves impressions on their minds. I so appreciate your article and all the valuable suggestions and ideas you so readily share to excite and promote reading with children. The comment “ I am rich for I had a mother who read to me” so truly applies!

    1. This is so important! I am a school librarian and of course I read aloud to my students every day! But it is sad how many parents do not. They especially want the children to take chapter books out as soon as possible, but I tell them that picture books are actually written at a much higher level (as they are designed for adults to read TO children). It is a way of modeling fluent reading and introducing vivid vocabulary. Some libraries even have a section for “picture books for older readers” (these may deal with challenging topics, such as racism, immigration, bullying, etc but in a short, picture book length). Most of our teachers (even those in 4th & 5th grade) read aloud to their students every day (including novels). Even older children love to be read to (as it takes the burden off them) and they can often enjoy the story more when they are not struggling with “decoding.” It is also important for your children to see YOU read. Then, they will know it is an important activity!

  80. I read to my girls (5 years apart in age) for many years. When my youngest daughter ended up in hospital in the ICU at age 29 I read aloud to her almost every day of her one month stay, it was an amazing experience reading Chris Hadfield’s “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth”.

  81. Margaret Birchall says:

    Any suggestions for parents with poor literacy?