It comes as no surprise that children who are read to are more likely to grow up to be readers and to have larger vocabularies than children who are not read to. My grandmother read to me when I was a child, and this helped me learn to read and enjoy reading. I was able to “read” at a young age by memorizing stories and knowing when to turn the pages. This translated into a much easier time learning to actually read, and it helped that I was able to quickly recognize words by sight because I had already heard them and seen them in many different stories.
I was reading this article about reading to tweens. It discusses the importance of adults reading to their tween children as a means to help them advance reading levels and maintain their interest in reading. The article points to parents reading to and with their tweens as a way to allow middle grades readers to consume the stories that interest them while helping them bridge reading levels.
Reading levels are used by schools and libraries as a method for keeping their students reading on an appropriate level. From the five finger reading method to Lexile levels, these reading levels are designed to help students choose appropriate books for their reading capabilities. They help keep fifth grade readers from choosing easy reader books, while keeping first grade students from choosing middle school level books.
But what happens when your fourth grade child is interested in a book that’s labeled for 6th-8th grade? Should the book be off limits? I am not discussing book content, but reading level. I know from my own experience that I would have been pretty bored with reading at an early age if I had been forced to stay on reading level. I was checking out books from the adult fiction section of the public library when I was 11 years old.
Reading aloud should not be limited to early readers, or even stop with tweens. Reading aloud is appropriate for all ages including adults. Many adults gather in book groups to discuss a book that everyone has read. Often these adults will read passages from the novels aloud. By doing so and then discussing the passages, the adults are able to further their comprehension of the passages.
As library professionals or avid readers, it is important that we promote reading aloud as a life long skill and activity. Yes, it is important to read to our young children, but just as much so to tweens. But it does not stop there, or at least it should not stop there. Let us promote reading aloud in our libraries among all ages.