The Power of a Read-Aloud

News from the 2nd Grade classroom

February 9, 2019
From my earliest memories, I’ve always loved a good story.  This love stems from the time spent in various relative’s laps and getting read to every day.  I’ve tried to instill this love of reading in my own kids and those kids who come through my classroom each year.

​Reading aloud provides a myriad of opportunities and benefits to all children of all ages and reading abilities.  In our second grade classroom at PNA, we read aloud every day, sometimes several times a day.  Some of the books are just to enjoy, some tie into our curriculum and some are ways to open discussions about current situations and emotions.

“When you read aloud, you’re whetting a child’s appetite for reading.”  – Jim Trelease
(author of the Read – Aloud Handbook)

Reading aloud helps children to develop a stronger vocabulary.  Since children acquire language primarily through listening, reading aloud lets children regularly hear new words in new contexts, helping them to build a stronger awareness of new vocabulary.

It also helps to build connections between the spoken and written word. When children hear words being read aloud, they begin to see the connection between printed and spoken words.

Reading aloud strengthens cognition and critical thinking abilities in children. A well written book gives kids an opportunity to explore sophisticated language and plots, which can strengthen their cognitive and critical thinking abilities.

Besides the opportunity for simple enjoyment, reading aloud also promotes bonding between those who experience the text. Children generally enjoy being read to, and listening to fun and engaging stories.  These experiences helps them to view reading as something fun and positive.  This quality time spend enjoying and discussing a great text strengthens relationships, and helps children to develop social, communication and interpersonal skills.
Reading aloud to kids also provides a safe way of exploring strong emotions and ideas. Children can sometimes more easily identify with characters in stories as they experience strong feelings and come to understand the feelings of others. Reading aloud together can give children a door in which to feel more comfortable in discussing and working through their own experiences and emotions.
A last benefit of reading aloud is that it can help to improve attention span.   Unlike time spent on screens, which is typically instant gratification, reading or being read to promotes a slower pace of events and ideas. Kids have to listen, pay attention and concentrate, which can increase their overall attention span after a while.

​Jim Trelease, is a respected educator and the author of the “Read-Aloud Handbook” talks more about this last benefit in an interview with Connie Matheson of

“We’re entering an age unparalleled since the age of Guttenberg; the world is changing faster than we can keep up with. A student can read a social studies textbook on the iPad. and tap on a hyperlink to, say, watch a PBS special on the Great Depression.”

That’s the good news. The bad news is that there is evidence that we don’t remember information as well when we read it on a screen. Yet people are on screens all the time. We’re raising the most distracted generation in the history of the world. The more distractions you add to the agenda, the less well you think. Technology may save space, weight, and time, but there is no science showing that it will save children’s minds, especially if they spend all their time on screen and never open a book. So parents have to play a big role. It’s up to parents to limit screen time, and to keep reading to kids and continue to plant and encourage their interest in books and reading.”

​For more information on this topic, here are some additional resources.
The hidden benefits of reading aloud — even for older kids
10 Reading Aloud Dos and Don’ts