Editorial: Read aloud for fun and profit

By now everyone has probably heard about the virtues of reading to children. Children who hear stories regularly from birth start school with a larger listening vocabulary and other knowledge that helps them learn to read and to read well. Reading well is one of the best predictors of success in school. It makes everything in life easier.

Reading also nurtures a child’s emotional maturity. It helps people develop empathy for their fellow creatures. Good socialization and emotional maturity is another factor in school success. This is true for households of all economic levels.

It is easy to think that if your family missed the boat on setting a reading habit when the kids were babies that it is too late to start now. It is not.

Starting a new regular read aloud habit with 10-year-olds or even teenagers may require a different approach than with smaller children, but it is worth it. Parents and grandparents are models, no matter how indifferent older children may pretend to be.

Indeed, reading aloud to kids even after they can read for themselves continues to benefit them. Older students who are read to continue to grow their own vocabularies, both for listening and reading. And the time adults spend enjoying literature with children and adolescents creates quiet, reflective times when parents can influence young people’s values and thinking skills. That’s true whether families are reading biography, science fiction, sports, classical literature or something else.

In the days and weeks before the start of a new school year, this a good time to work on a new reading habit, or to re-establish an old one. The only requirement is to choose a work the family enjoys.

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