A 2019 article in the Guardian highlights research suggesting only 32% of British children under 13 are read to daily by an adult and most parents stop reading to their child by the age of eight.
So why does story time matter when most children over eight are reading independently by that age? Here are our thoughts on the benefits:
- Hearing books read aloud by an adult – an expert reader – is a different experience – children don’t have to worry about working out what the words say they can concentrate on what’s happening in the story and enjoy it.
- You can read them books which are more sophisticated that those they might be able to read on their own, bringing stories to life by the ways you read them.
- Reading books aloud is a great way to show children that books and reading are fun – and something they can enjoy doing long after they have learnt to read the words.
- By reading books to your child you are building shared experiences and very special memories.
- Sometimes you might start your child off on a new book by reading the first few chapters to them. This will ‘tune them in to the rhythms of a story they might then go on to read themselves – they will have your voice in their heads as they do so.
- Sometimes you might read the same book as your child separately and then share thoughts about it afterwards – creating your own family bookclub.
Frances told us that sharing books with her ten-year-old daughter Zoe means lots of booktalk:
‘My mum has always shared her favourite books with me and similarly Zoe and I enjoy sharing books; this now entails discussion of books we’ve both read rather than me reading whole books aloud to her. Sometimes the sharing is as simple as me clocking where she’s got to in the book and making some sort of comment about that part; at other times she asks me to read the first few chapters of a book aloud, which seems to help her become quickly immersed in it. At other times she’ll share puzzles with me. I tend to let her lead book discussions because I want her to view them as enjoyable and interesting rather than ‘chore-like’. Generally, she initiates conversations about why characters are behaving in particular ways and makes connections to our own life experiences. Sometimes, if I notice she has overlooked a key plot line, I help her to quickly find and then re-read the key passages of the books.’
Because we’ve built up quite a ‘bank’ of shared reads over the years, Zoe will also volunteer connections between books or characters within them. For example, she drew parallels between The Explorer and Wolf -Wilder because in both books, children had to set out on expeditions without adults.
See here for our selection of books for children 7-11, this includes picturebooks as well as novels.