I started reading to Blaine when he was too young to follow the story. He just wanted to point at the pictures and practice his new talking skills. (“Quack!”) His pudgy fingers often turned the pages faster than I could read the words.
Soon, though, he came to love stories. He also figured out that showing up with a book in hand was a good way to get my undivided attention. We read his favorites over and over again. We read them until he had committed the words to memory and could “read” them to me.
Eventually he started to enjoy longer books—even books without pictures. During that phase, Larrabee was born. He too grew from a little person who chewed on books and sometimes ripped their pages to a bigger person who listened intently and always demanded one more chapter. The three of us spent a lot of time in the rocking chair in the nursery with a good book.
My boys needed me to read to them in those early days because they did not know how. And they learned so much from books—everything from new words to listening skills to an understanding of how stories work. Most importantly, they learned to love reading. Research shows that reading aloud to young children provides all these benefits and more.
But my boys can—and do—read to themselves now. And yet I still read aloud to them. Why? Over the next month, I’ll explore four reasons.