7 Great Reasons for Reading Aloud to Children

Possum Magic by Mem FoxWith the last school holidays I found myself on the secondhand bookshop and libraries rounds with the young people in my life again. It is a routine that defines the holidays and comes from spending time together in the early years reading books, sharing stories and escaping off into imaginary worlds.

I wasn't always such a reader, my mum and sister have always been book worms and I had to be coached into reading. When it came to me wanting a guinea-pig when I was six mum said I had to read to her every day for six weeks while the guinea-pig grew enough to be weaned. Yes, a smart and intelligent mother. So while I didn't like reading I wanted the little fury creature so I went along with it and became a better reader. I got the guinea-pig and still preferred mum reading to me. Now I'm a professional writer who doesn't get to read enough!

When I came across the Pyjama Foundation I was really impressed by their mission - to help more foster children have the rich experience of being read aloud to. I really found the story of Bryce Courtney fascinating and the passion of Mem Fox inspiring. It got me thinking about what's so important about reading aloud to children and what many of us take for granted.

So here's 7 great reasons reading aloud to children:

1. Children learn a great deal about reading themselves when being read to. By reading the books together children learn to recognise words and how they are used. Children who are read to regularly in their pre-school days perform better once they get to school.

2. Reading a book with a child is a really rewarding and special way to spend time together.

3. It's a fun time often full of laughter, especially when special voices are used for different characters and emphasising adventurous events. Laughing with a child is one of the best things in life.

4. Children respond so well to routines, to consistency and having a regular routine of reading together and helps creates feelings of safety and security.

5. Having the focus and attention of an adult makes children feel valued and improves their self-esteem. It also gives a great opportunity to have open conversations about what's happening with their life - vital for keeping the lines of communication open and giving the opportunity to know about any potential problems or risks.

6. Reading aloud and sharing stories with children helps them fall in love with reading and books. Associating positive feelings like happiness, warmth and safety with reading helps children

7. Many children stories teach great skills and lessons in a fun and accessible way so children get to develop important life lessons while enjoying a safe and happy experience.

You don't have to be a great reader yourself for a child to enjoy you reading to them - they love the story, time and attention you are giving them. Reading regularly to a child will also help you get better with telling the children stories, making it easier the more you do it.

I've certainly improved in my story reading skills by listening to my mum read to children, learning the ways of bringing fun, excitement and humour by emphasising certain words and using different voices. Many local libraries offer children reading times that are free to attend and are a great way to learn from others too while the children are escaping off into imaginary worlds.

Click here to learn more about the Pyjama Foundation and why Mem Fox and Bryce Courtney are out there supporting this life changing group.

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