Reading Aloud to Our Children in the Year of Reading

Jul 19, 2016

We all want our children to become good communicators, with the confidence and ease to find the right words to express themselves and a strong vocabulary to articulate their thoughts.

There is no better way to achieve this than by exposing them to reading aloud in their early years. Reading aloud to children at school and at home is proven to stimulate and strengthen the part of their brain associated with visual imagery, story comprehension and word meaning.

And there is no better time to start than today with 2016 declared the Year of Reading in the UAE under the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

In recent years we have observed that children’s books are taking on a new form –the language used in children’s books of the past was simple and rhythmic, today the usage of words are more descriptive and complex and when combined with creative illustrations, they provide children with memorable 360 experiences. This allows young ones, in their early years, to develop phonemic awareness, a rich vocabulary, correct grammar, more articulate oral communication and enhanced creativity.

In addition they develop an understanding of people, cultures, and places beyond their immediate environment.

In fact, reading to children has proven to have unparalleled benefits to such a degree that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new policy recently encouraging doctors to share these benefits with parents.

As children enter their teenage years, the most critical years in their development, they move from listening to actively participating in reading aloud. This process enables them to build confidence in the use of language to express their emotions and find the strategies to handle social situations and conflicts.

The types of books to select from will vary: Whereas younger readers respond well to books with strong repeated patterns and vivid pictures that support the text and engaging stories that reflect their experiences, teenagers interests are peaked by more powerful texts focusing on the issues that have historically concerned teens as well as themes particularly relevant today: How do I fit in? How do I stay true to myself when confronted with peer pressures? How will I find my life’s work? How can I create a world free of violence, hunger, want and filled with natural beauty?

Reading aloud to children establishes in them not only a life-long love of books but one of curiosity of the world around them. Their passion for reading will translate into a passion for discovery, innovation and excellence through active learning, helping them to become thoughtful and productive leaders of tomorrow. So in this, the Year of Reading, let’s make it our New Year’s Resolution to read aloud to our children.

Tips for Parents:

• Share your enjoyment of books with your child.
• Talk over your reading.
• Continue to read aloud to your child even after he or she reads independently.
• Encourage your child to choose a book to read aloud to someone else.
• Broaden your child’s horizon by helping to select from a wide range of subject.
• Encourage your child to read whatever he or she enjoys even if it appears too easy or too hard.
• Let your child see your enjoyment of your own reading.
• Find time for your child to visit and browse in libraries and bookstores.

Top Ten Children’s Books according to New York Times Bestsellers:

1. Love from The Very Hungry Caterpillar
2. The Day the Crayons Quit
3. The Wonderful Things You Will Be
4. The Day the Crayons Came Home
5. Dragons Love Tacos
6. The Book with No Pictures
7. Waiting
8. Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Love
9. Last Stop on Market Street
10. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

Author: Dr. Kandace Williams, Superintendent Clarion School

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