We live in fast-moving times, and we have so many devices and screens to keep us busy. The air is full of sound, but there is nothing quite like the sound of someone reading a book aloud. Once you hear someone begin to read, it’s impossible to listen to anything else. Research shows that reading to very young children gives them a jump-start on vocabulary and reading skills, and leads them to learn more and stay in school longer.
Although picture books with rhymes are great for young ones, remember that children have better comprehension when listening, so they can understand books with stories that are more complicated than ones they can read by themselves. As kids get older, reading aloud is still important – choose books that are just above their reading level and try new subject matter, but make the choices together.
Children with developmental delays who acquire language differently sometimes benefit from recorded books in which the words sound exactly the same every time, but listening with them and using puppets or acting out the story also enhances their understanding. Sensory issues can also affect the read-aloud experience. Some kids want to sit on your lap and snuggle; others need a little distance from the volume and excitement of the human voice and like to curl up in bed while you read from a chair.
Parents and teachers we spoke to recommend Jim Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook and his anthology of excerpts from classic children’s books, Hey! Listen to This: Stories to Read Aloud. We at Tumblehome have a list of a few STEM books that cut across all age groups:
Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant is a bedtime book for ages 3-8 that replicates the soothing and familiar sounds of the day ending and the nighttime awakening.
My Light by Molly Bang for ages 4-8, talks poetically about the many ways we get energy from the sun.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts is for ages 5 and up and tells the story of Rosie – grand-daughter to Rosie the Riveter – who dreams of becoming an engineer and learns about the joys and pitfalls of being an inventor.
Locomotive by Brian Floca is a Caldecott Winner for ages 4-10 that takes readers on an amazing ride on the Transcontinental Railroad.
Something Stinks! by Gail Hedrick is THL’s award-winning book for middle schoolers in which 7th grader Emily Sanders solves a mystery about a fish kill and learns some lessons about friendship along the way.
The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzberger is for ages 10 and up and tells the story of Robert, a boy who hates math, who meets a Number Devil who helps him discover the magic and fascination of numbers.
Ready for more? Take a look at the read-aloud science book list we put together last year.