Reading Aloud with Older Kids

Many of us cherish the bedtime read-aloud routine with younger children. Time set aside to read aloud together is important for developing the print awareness, vocabulary and comprehension skills young kids need when they’re learning to read. However, by the time kids are in grade 2 or 3 and reading on their own, that nighttime routine often fades away. Growing evidence shows us that reading aloud with children up to the time they leave the house (yes, really!) has many benefits.

Why Read Aloud with Your Independent Reader?

  • Develop and maintain a close relationship with your child. Tweens and teens sometimes disengage from their families and are focused on social relationships with their friends or at school. Christie Burnett says, "Choosing a book to read together that addresses a tricky topic — such as friendship issues, prejudice, bullying, or homelessness — offers an unmatched opportunity to talk together. You can better understand what your child thinks or has experienced around a given issue, as well as share your beliefs and personal stories on a sensitive subject."
  • Enhance listening and comprehension skills. Did you know that children can understand books that are two grade levels higher when read aloud? Regan McMahon states, "Kids who are read to encounter more words — and learn how to recognize and pronounce them — than they would by just being spoken to. And studies show that having a large vocabulary can help kids perform better in school." Often children who struggle with reading flourish when they are read to.
  • It’s fun and engaging. Reading aloud can cement a love of reading in children and can be a welcome escape from the stressful world around us.

Getting Started

  • Establish a routine. Bedtime is often a good place to start.
  • Model the behavior. If you model reading aloud as a fun and engaging activity, your kids will soon follow suit. Likewise, putting some emotions and fun voices into your performance will keep them engaged.
  • Offer choice. Find something that both you and your child are engaged in to ensure that this time together can be a calming and bonding ritual, rather than a chore. Consider nonfiction or graphic novels as well as traditional chapter books.
  • Do it everywhere. Whether you’re waiting at an appointment, getting ready for bed, building the latest puzzle, or on a road trip, reading aloud can be done anytime.
  • Consider audiobooks. When your voice gets hoarse, try listening to an audiobook together. We have a great selection of both physical and digital audiobooks to explore.

What to Read

Check out our booklists for some great books to read aloud.

Find more ideas in these books, which offer suggestions based on interest and age group: