“The United States’ National Reading Panel carried out a series of studies that provided a very persuasive case for oral reading. The findings showed that when kids read out loud multiple times (while receiving guidance and feedback from their teacher), their reading achievement skyrockets.” (Reading Simplified)
Let’s take a look at two critical reasons to ask children to read aloud. The first is beautifully captured by Andrea Davis Pinkney, this newsletter’s resident expert:
“We bring power to stories by telling them and encouraging young people to talk to us about what they're reading. Similarly, not reading aloud with kids is like giving them lightbulbs that are only partially lit.”
When teachers and parents talk to their children about the stories they hear, children discover that books have meaning. They learn that people hold differing points of view regarding a character’s actions; an author’s choice of an ending; or the meaning of an event. Children learn that one of the joys of reading, and reading words out loud, is to hear a story come to life. Reading aloud lights the bulb.
Just as importantly, reading aloud is necessary to help teachers determine the extent to which a beginning reader is learning the written code and applying it. Children must learn the sounds of letters or groups of letters, known as phonics, so that they can shine a light on unknown words through accurate decoding. The only way a teacher or parent can ascertain a child’s knowledge of the code is through his or her oral reading. By listening, adults can assess the child’s word recognition, then provide gentle feedback and guide young children to correctly decode.
Parents and teachers, as you teach children to read, listen up! Enjoy the conversation with your students and children about their books. And then shine that light on critical, multisensory decoding instruction so that a child has the tools needed to sound out unknown words.