teacher reading aloud

Benefits of Reading Aloud to Children

Jul 21, 2023  • by Debbie Bagley

As educators, we know there are so many incredible benefits in reading aloud to children. In addition to promoting literacy skills, background knowledge, vocabulary, better test scores, and more successful writers, reading aloud also opens the world to children.

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children …. [and]is a practice that should continue throughout the grades,” according to a 1985 U.S Department of Education report, Becoming a Nation of Readers

But, what we may not always realize is that it also profoundly helps with social-emotional wellness by significantly building classroom community connections, releasing stress, enhancing imaginations, and inducing feelings of joy.

“It’s a scientific reading fact that human beings are pleasure-centered. This means every time you read to a child, you’re sending a ‘pleasure’ message to the child’s brain, conditioning it to associate books and print with pleasure. We read aloud to children for the same reasons we talk with them: to reassure; entertain; bond; inform; arouse curiosity; and inspire,” said Jim Trelease, author of The New York Times Bestseller The Read-Aloud Handbook. 

He explained that reading aloud even goes further than conversation because it does the following:

    • Conditions the child to associate reading  with pleasure
    • Creates background knowledge
    • Builds book vocabulary
    • Provides a reading role model

Without a doubt, reading aloud is one of the most important things I use to help connect with and bond with my students every single day. This is a magical time together. It helps set a good attitude and tone in our day, and we seem to be more focused and relaxed and work more collaboratively. 

I know we can feel the pressure of “getting through everything” in the short amount of teaching time we have. But, even if you only have 5-10 minutes in your schedule, please try to make it happen. Read-alouds can fit in after recess time, during circle time, going home time, or as part of other transition times. Your students will thank you, and you will not regret it.

I love reading aloud to my students and they tell me it’s their favorite part of the day. I enjoy searching for books that connect perfectly with all our learning themes and knowing they will make a difference in the lives of my students. For example, in the beginning of the school year, we focus a lot of attention on kindness, respect, listening, and following directions. I search for books that are relatable, informative, funny, entertaining or recommended by other teachers. 

teacher reading aloud to children

Searching for the perfect classroom read-alouds

When I first started teaching I wondered how to select picture books for my classroom library. I also had limited funds (mainly out of my own pocket) for purchasing books. But, I knew how important they are and I was determined to start out little by little and continue every year. 

One way to do this is every summer make a goal to learn about and search out new favorite picture books to add to your classroom collection. Browsing yard sales and checking with retiring teachers can be a gold mine. The search can be so fun! 

We also have multiple theme-specific or subject-specific suggestions in the following blogs:

You can also consider following educational bloggers and sites where they share favorite titles and a brief summary about books they find and love. Kelli Smith, in her blog Still Teaching Still Learning, shares some book favorites for the beginning of the year. While many of these suggested books are for younger grade students, please remember that children’s picture books work well with all ages especially with topics about growth mindset and good character.

Check out her list at stillteachingstilllearning.com/beginning-of-year-picture-books for some great ideas. 

Here are a couple more blogs to check out for book lists:

PBS Parents Booklists 

Babies to Bookworms – tons of children’s picture books on so many different topics.

I’d love to hear what fabulous books you are finding. Enjoy your search!