Keep Reading to Your Older Kids!
By the time students are reading on their own, it's easy to forget about the hours spent reading bedtime stories--a time that likely included the phrase, "One more!" as your kids tried to delay the inevitable. However, even when children are older, and content to fall asleep without the mandatory bedtime story, there are tremendous benefits to continuing to read aloud to them. Taking the time to read to grade school children provides a space to continue to expand their vocabulary and understanding of more complex situations in the stories they read.
Often children are able to decode the text, but they may need the help of an adult to dig deeper and think about the lessons the main character has learned or the themes of the stories they are reading. Reading aloud to children creates an opportunity for adults to prompt meaningful conversations about the text and help develop the 'book talk' skills of the child. What exactly are these 'book talk' skills? If your child's school follows the Reading Workshop model, developing the skills to discuss characters, plot, theme, and problems in the story become increasingly important. This ability to discuss various aspects of the text is called 'book talk'. How can you help develop strong discussion skills? Start a conversation about the story during your read aloud with your child. You'll be surprised how these conversations prompt interesting questions and discussions with your child.
Conversation starters for read alouds:
Why do you think _____________ reacted that way?
Based on what you know about __________________ what do you think will happen next?
I wonder why...
I can't believe...
By allowing your child to share their ideas about the story, and sharing your own ideas, you are teaching them that authors intend to have texts interpreted differently based on the readers' personal experiences. Encourage your child to explain why and support their thoughts with text evidence. An easy way to encourage this is to ask, "What makes you think that?"
Start reading aloud with your grade schoolers, and enjoy the conversations!