International children’s book day is celebrated on the 3rd of April every year, so there’s never been a better time than now to discuss the benefits of reading out loud to kids.
I’ve read aloud almost every day to my kids since my oldest (who’s now 14) was born. Thousands of books have been shared between my children and I. We’ve been to Narnia and Hogwarts, met Little Women and cheered for Auggie in Wonder. We’ve laughed, cried, been amazed, scared and tense. We’ve felt heartache and joy, triumph and redemption all through the pages of books. And most importantly, we’ve strengthened our family bonds during our sacred evening reading sessions.
Reading aloud to our kids gives them a special kind of access to the wonderful and vivid world of story. That world can take them places they might otherwise be unable to go. They hear words out loud that they’ve never heard before and their vocabulary soars as a result. They practice empathy through the power of hearing someone else’s story as they learn how other people live and survive on this vast and wonderful planet. They learn about big ideas in the world and take on challenging thoughts and issues. Their imaginations come alive and they get new ideas for their own storytelling.
Research has shown for a long time that children who are read to regularly have improved language and listening skills, experience stronger emotional connections to their loved ones, and gain a lifelong love of reading. It’s also a cheap and easily accessible activity. Most of us have access to a local library and many library’s now offer a drop off service. We also have an amazing selection of books available online that can be delivered to our doors. So the only thing we really need to commit to on our read aloud journey is our time, and it’s so worth it. If you can commit to around thirty minutes a day reading aloud to your children (this can be broken up into smaller intervals for younger children/babies), then your kids will be well on the way to receiving all the read aloud benefits.
It’s also important to note that these benefits don’t end when your child can competently read on their own. Reading aloud continues to be hugely beneficial for older children and teens. As your children get older and the content of the books your reading becomes more complex, it allows for more in depth conversations to take place and it also helps your older child/teen develop critical thinking skills, which means it’s never too late to introduce a read aloud tradition in the home.
Below I’ve listed a few of our favourite books in different age brackets.
13 plus years
Sophies World - Jostein Gaarder
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D Salinger
The Hunger Games series - Suzanne Collins
The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes - Suzanne Collins
The Hate You Give - Angie Thomas
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
Everything Everything - Nicola Yoon
10 plus years
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeline L’Engle
Wonder - R J Palacio
Augie and Me - R J Palacio
Counting by Sevens - Holly Goldberg Sloan
The Boy at the Back of the Class - Onjali Q Rauf
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
The Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis
Harry Potter series - J K Rowling
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
Out of my mind - Sharon M Draper
8 plus years
Stella by Starlight - Sharon M Draper
The Hundred Dresses - Eleanor Estes
Malala - Malala Yousafzai
Pippi Longstocking - Astrid Lindgren
Schooled - Gordon Korman
The Night Bus - Onjali Q Rauf
Nowhere Boy - Katherine Marsh
Love Your Body - Jess Sanders
4 plus years
Little People Big Dreams Series - Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Aroha Knows - Rebekah Lipp
Anything by Oliver Jeffers
A Word Full of Animal Stories - Angela McAllister
I’m Almost Always Kind - Usborne Books
Love Grows Everywhere - Barry Timms & Tisha Lee
You’ve Got This - Jess Sanders
One Thing - Lauren Child
Guess how much I love you - Sam McBratney
The Wonderful Things You Will Be - Emily Winfield Martin
Mrs Peanuckles Alphabet Series
Music Is - Brandon Stosuy
Miffy series - Dick Bruna
Any board books about colours, shapes, numbers etc
Rosie Clark is a regular contributor to the Little & Loved blog. Rosie has a background in teaching and play therapy. She currently homeschools her five children in the sunny Hawkes Bay. In her free time she likes to teach ukulele, roller skate and grow flowers.