4 books which explore why reading aloud to our children will change their lives forever
Reading aloud is the first step in giving your child a life-long love of reading. And so much more.
“When I say to a parent, “read to a child”, I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.”
~ Mem Fox
Australian Literacy Consultant and author Mem Fox wrote her best-seller Reading Magic in 1998. It’s simple, jargon-free message is that children need to be taught to love reading, and the easiest and probably the only way to do this is to read aloud to them regularly from birth.
We all know that small babies thrive from being held and spoken to. Just the sound of your voice is soothing and nourishing and similarly being read to, and introducing books as early as possible, is vital. As they begin to focus and explore their world through touch, your moments together with a cloth or board book to feel (and even taste), all come together to help them on their epic journey through life.
Reading aloud in those early years for just 15 minutes a day is an instantly bonding experience, and really, who doesn’t love sharing the drama, humour and mystery of a really great book with their child? By offering glimpses of the fantastical world which lies beyond their doorsteps, sharing stories helps teach children so much more than a foundation in the art of reading. On the one hand, seeing reflections of themselves and their home, family and lives reinforces that important sense of identity. While on the other, exploring different cultures, places and peoples will help them develop an empathy and understanding of others.
Disappointingly, representation in authors, illustrators and characters in children’s books is still nowhere near good enough. Figures from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) last year show that while 33.5% of the UK primary school population are from a minority ethnic background, only 7% of children’s books published in the last 3 years featured characters of colour. So, while it can sometimes take a little more time to find books that will reflect a more realistic picture of the world there are now lots of great book blog and resourves online to help you. You could start here browsing our Brilliant Books series at Book Adventurers. And of course, finding books that open up a wider world to your child will prepare them far more effectively for a life in which we can all celebrate our differences. This understanding of the wider world is also a key part of their early years foundation stage learning journey and the more we champion diverse and inclusive books the more publishers will get the message and commission more of them.
A love of reading is so much more than gaining a skill, it’s that crucial motivation to learn, see, understand, create and think for yourself through sharing the words, dreams and experiences of others. Reading really is magic and, all you need to do to gift your child that miraculous alchemy is to read aloud to them as early, and as regularly as you can. Reading shouldn’t be about ticking boxes reduced to the action of decoding letters and sounds, it should be opening the doors of their little minds to the awe-inspiring possibilities that lie ahead of them in life. And if they can find a love of reading early, they will already be on the right path and ‘armed’ with everything they need.
To find out more about why reading aloud is easily one of the best things you can do as a parent or carer, we’ve got some grown-up reading recommendations that will give you everything you need to make this ancient practice as fulfilling and effective for you and your child, as possible.
Disclosure: If you buy books linked to our site, we may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops.