By Jeff Calareso
When you read aloud to a child, you do much more than just tell him or her a story. The experience is an opportunity to contribute to both your and the child's life in immeasurable ways.
Reading aloud to very young children helps their brains develop, regardless of whether the child is old enough to understand the story. Furthermore, as children grow, hearing books read aloud fosters critical thinking and language skills. You can ask them what they think will happen next or let them try to tell you the story by interpreting the pictures. As a child hears new stories, his or her vocabulary grows through hearing unfamiliar words in an understandable context. For example, rhyming books help children connect similar sounds and begin to understand the connections between words.
While reading as an adult is often a quiet, solitary act, it's necessarily a collaborative and vocal act for children. Reading aloud to a child starts him or her down the path to literacy. It's an essential step as children learn to read by themselves and, as they begin to read, they will be able to read books aloud back to you.
In order for a child to become a readers and person who cherishes books as an adult, reading to him or her at a young age is indispensable. By sharing your own love of books, you can instill those values in a child. To do this best, read only books that you enjoy. These can be books that you enjoyed as a child or newer children's books that you find fun and engaging to read. This quality time spent reading to children will then foster a positive association with literature.
If you don't have children of your own, consider volunteering at a local library or bookstore. Many schools also welcome volunteers. In whatever setting you do it, know that reading aloud to children is a wonderful gift that will help them in countless ways.
Do you love reading? Then you might want to learn about National Book Month.