The Reading Room – November 2023

The Importance of Reading to Your Students

Beyond the simple joys of hearing a story being read to them, your students can benefit in a myriad of ways that will strengthen and enrich their overall language experience and literacy skills base. So many of our students are not proficient readers at their grade level.  This means that they cannot access grade level vocabulary, syntax, or word structure themselves. They might very well be great at listening comprehension but not at decoding or with comprehending what THEY read.  This is where reading to your students becomes an excellent tool/activity to develop that neurological groundwork for language and literacy skills such as vocabulary development, grammar, and syntax.  Through skilled reading of enriched text, students are exposed to higher level vocabulary and ideas. Your intermittent questioning (see Questioning Resource) can build inference skills, empathy for a character’s situation and even connect to your students’ life and emotional experiences. Research has shown that students who have five books per day read to them enter kindergarten having heard more than one million words as opposed to students who have not been read to.

Research has also shown that it’s never too late to read to our students. Reading to older students can be equally beneficial.  As their text becomes more difficult and complex in high school, reading to the students exposes them to more advanced syntax, morphology, and ideas so that they can concentrate on meaning.  Once they have been exposed by listening, it helps them to access more difficult text themselves.  NEVER STOP READING TO YOUR STUDENTS! The benefits are overwhelming.

We know that reading to students expands their background knowledge.  It stimulates cognitive functioning.  Reading to students boosts their memory (especially through questioning), and increases focus. It can activate a love of books and reading and can be a relaxing bonding time with your students.

In addition, we cannot discuss the importance of reading to our students without mentioning that children with better oral language skills have an easier time learning how to read, while kids who have poor oral language (listening and speaking) tend to have difficulty learning to read and write.  One researcher, Speech-language pathologist Dr. Julie Washington, describes oral vocabulary as the key to reading success.  She insists that parents and educators can support oral language thereby developing reading skills by encouraging children to engage in meaningful conversations. We, as educators, should be intentional about using sophisticated (big) words and academic vocabulary when talking to our students.  This, in turn, promotes engaging conversations and strengthens later reading skills.

“Reading stories aloud and talking about books is one surefire way to foster oral language skills in the classroom.”                                                                                                               

– Reading Rockets


Ohio State University – Read Aloud Resources

https://ehe.osu.edu/news/listing/importance-reading-kids-daily-0

Ohio State University – Questions to Get Them Engaged

https://ehe.osu.edu/news/listing/reading-kids-questions-get-them-engaged

Reading to Older Students, Edutopia

https://www.edutopia.org/video/why-reading-aloud-never-gets-old/

Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel  https://www.readingrockets.org/resources/resource-library/developing-early-literacy-report-national-early-literacy-panel

From Babbling to Books:  Building Pre-Reading Skills

https://www.readingrockets.org/helping-all-readers/voices-experts/webcasts/babbling-books-building-pre-reading-skills

For questions, please contact:

Chris Fox – cfox@ces.org, Jessica Powell – jpowell@ces.org 

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