The Power of the Read Aloud

Parents who model their own love of reading and engage in their children’s reading—who read aloud to them, take them to the library, and talk about favorite books—help their children grow into lifelong readers. What’s more, when parents read aloud to their children during the preschool years, they are more likely to raise children who become avid readers (Scholastic, 2013).

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommends that pediatricians encourage parents to read aloud daily, beginning at birth (2014). Dr. Pamela High, lead author of the AAP policy, explains the aim: “… those 15-20 minutes spent reading with a child can be the best part of the day. It’s a joyful way to build child-parent relationships and set a child on the pathway to developing early literacy skills.”

“Reading aloud to your child is a commercial for reading. When you read aloud, you're whetting a child's appetite for reading. … A child who has been read to will want to learn to read herself. She will want to do what she sees her parents doing. But if a child never sees anyone pick up a book, she isn't going to have that desire” (Trelease, 2013). Plus, “children who have an enthusiastic reader as a role model may stay determined to learn to read, even when facing challenges, rather than becoming easily discouraged” (Cunningham & Zibulsky, 2013).

The read aloud is the gift that keeps on giving—leading to student gains in vocabulary (Beck & McKeown, 2001), comprehension strategies and story schema (Van den Broek, 2001), and concept development (Pinnell & Fountas, 2011).