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Reading Aloud:

Read Aloud in Any Language

Whether in English, Spanish, or any other language, reading aloud to children provides them with life-changing benefits.

Then and Now

Before television came into the home, children grew up listening to rhymes, poems, songs, and stories. They were very fortunate to receive such a rich heritage through oral storytelling.

Today's world has changed greatly. Young couples often set up their households far from family and friends. Starting their family so far from their extended families, parents lose access to a wonderful treasure: the stories and values their family members could teach their children.

What Is Young Children's Literature?

A way to remedy the loss of the personal stories and recollections of family members is to introduce young children to age-appropriate literature. Young children's literature includes a variety of genres, or types. What is common to all is that they are of interest to young children, from infants to 8 years of age. They include poems, rhymes, legends, and picture books. The books contain many illustrations that support the story and add to its meaning.

Topics in children's literature can include traditional stories (fairy tales or legends), modern fantasy (talking animals, miniature children or people), realistic fiction (poverty, sibling rivalry), historical fiction, or biographies. Informational books about topics such as electricity and volcanoes are also available.

What Benefits Does Reading Aloud Offer Children?

Young children learn much when books are read aloud to them. From birth they learn about language, whether in Spanish, English, or another language.

As children grow, the more they are read to and read aloud themselves, they will learn how to write and spell. Later, they can master reading and writing at an earlier age. Students who have been read to and who can read at early ages achieve higher grades in language arts and higher scores on standardized tests.

Reading stories aloud to children helps them learn empathy for others, to see other sides to a situation. They may feel what the main character is going through (whether person or animal), be it fear, anger, or humility. Depending on the story, children can learn life lessons, like how to ask for forgiveness or how to share what they own with others.

Reading stories to children also provides opportunities for them to discover persons not in their immediate environment, such as the elderly or people from a different ethnic background or social status.

Through books, children can travel to faraway lands, or learn about life in the jungle or on a cattle ranch. Books about a different culture teach children what is considered proper or appropriate behavior for that culture. Children also might learn about another culture's holiday celebrations or the different games children play in other countries.

When reading aloud fairy tales or modern fantasy, children learn how to use their imagination, to view their world from a heightened perspective.

Finally, to assure your children a better future, visit a public library to select some books—and read aloud to your children.

Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, AEL, Inc.

Read Aloud in Any Language