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Experience the Lasting Impact of Reading Aloud for Children

Read Aloud to a Child Week is October 24 through 30


by Kayla Aldrich with Read to Them

Be it around the dinner table, on a car ride, under at tree, or cuddled up before bed, time spent reading aloud with your child is precious. These moments of quality time are like deposits into a bank of good memories that will grow and pay dividends for years to come.

For fifth grade teacher and reading advocate Colby Sharp, reading aloud is an irreplaceable elementy of his students’ toolkits for learning.

“I have had the privilege and the honor of traveling this country talking to educators about reading,” Sharp says. “Almost every time I go somewhere, I ask teachers to share their reading life. To tell me about how they became a reader, what led them to being a teacher, what made them this great reader who goes to reading conferences and wants to learn more. The number one answer I get every time is ‘reading aloud.’ ”

Planting these seeds is easier than you may think. According to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, 87 percent of kids ages six to seven “loved or liked read aloud time.” That means eagerness to spend time together is likely already present at this age. By reading aloud from an engaging book selected by your child, you can unlock a wealth of benefits.

Explore Benefits and Resources 

Reading aloud not only nourishes a child’s imagination, but it is essential to expanding their linguistic skills. For emerging scholars, reading aloud aids in increasing a child’s listening abilities, learning proper pronunciation, and associating words with pictures. Older readers can  engage with more complicated plots, increasing their reading comprehension skills. A child’s verbal lexicon is fairly extensive, and by hearing words spoken aloud while seeing them on the page, their visual vocabularies increase, too.

“Merci Suarez Changes Gears” by Richmond author and Newbery Award winner Meg Medina is a wonderful read-aloud choice.

Read to Them, a national nonprofit organization based in Richmond, promotes literacy by offering school and home-based reading programs. In April of 2020, Read to Them adapted to the sudden need for a home-based program brought on by pandemic-related school closures. 

By launching #OneBookConnects, students and their families could use Read to Them’s plethora of materials from the comfort of their homes.

Through these programs, families have access to a Digital Resource Hub. This ever-expanding set of supplemental materials includes daily Kahoot! quizzes and a Flipgrid community for kids to discuss books together in a safe, creative environment. There’s also access to the site’s blog, which contains exclusive author interviews, character highlights, and writing prompts to bolster your child’s excitement for the text.

Still looking for titles to get started? Read to Them has curated five book lists for children of all ages. Intro titles are great first read alouds for families with younger children. Sweet Spot titles are perfect for families with children in different elementary grades so the whole family can enjoy one book together. There is an Intermediate list for upper elementary school students, and even a list for Middle School. And, yes, you can read aloud to your child all the way through middle school. These middle-school titles contain thought-provoking themes that can help families broach deeper topics together. There is also a list of books available in Spanish translation, too. Your family can access these lists on Read to Them’s Our Books page.

Find and Make Time for Reading Aloud

Most families realize the benefits of reading aloud, but finding the time can be be complicated. Every year during the last week of October, Read to Them sponsors Read Aloud to a Child Week, a national event to showcase the importance of reading aloud to children and to encourage families to read together. Try to schedule time, October 24 through 30, for reading aloud with your family.. For over twenty years, Read Aloud to a Child Week has been a stress-free way to engage with the literacy community. It truly is as simple as selecting a book of your choice and reading aloud as a family.

The Read Aloud to a Child Week 2021 theme is Gratitude. During this turbulent time, the theme encourages kids and families to reflect on the positive parts of everyday life, any part that brings you joy. You’ll have the opportunity to ask your children: Who are you grateful for? Where do you find the light when the world feels dark? 

Below are five picture books and five chapter books that embody gratitude in one way or another. For a more extensive list, be sure to check out the Read Aloud to a Child Week program page.

Picture Books

Chapter Books

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners
by Joanna Ho
Esperanza Rising
by Pam Munoz Ryan
All the World
by Liz Garton Scanlon
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace Lin
Last Stop on Market Street
by Matt de la Pena
Merci Suárez Changes Gears
by Meg Medina
We are Grateful: Ostaliheliga
by Traci Sorell
Harbor Me
by Jacqueline Woodson
The Ramble Shamble Children
by Christina Soontornvat
Toys Go Out
by Emily Jenkins

Ultimately, the goal is to help nourish a lifelong relationship between your child and the written word. By planting these early seeds, your young scholar can bloom into an adult who reads with frequency and ease, all while creating memories together that will last a lifetime.

More about the benefits of reading aloud from RFM here.


(feature photo provided by Michael Jackson)


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