This letter was originally published Sunday, March 5, 2023 as part of a short package of letters to the editor. It was republished to its on page on March 6, 2023 at 12:15 p.m.
Reading, particularly reading aloud, is a fundamental building block of learning for children. For this reason, parents and educators should incorporate read-aloud time into their everyday routines. As we face an exponential increase in screen time for children as young as preschool age, reading aloud to children at home and in school is more important than ever.
At The Highlands School, literacy is the foundation of the learning experience. Literacy encompasses reading, writing, speaking and listening. We believe that a key to literacy is reading aloud to students every day and have found several important benefits.
- Reading aloud to children helps with working memory and concentration. When someone is reading out loud, children dial into what the reader is saying, strengthening listening and memory skills.
- Research demonstrates that reading aloud supports all areas of literacy development, exposing students to new words and grammar, increasing students’ interest in reading and writing and expanding skills such as phonological awareness. It also strengthens students’ syntactic development, vocabulary acquisition, fluency, comprehension, writing and emotional intelligence in the early grades, says Brittany Brooks, a fifth- grade English teacher in her article, “The Hidden Powers of Read Alouds.”
- Learning to read is learning to learn. We say that children learn to read from infancy through age 7, which is the time to help children develop a love for reading. Kids read to learn from grades three and beyond.
- A child’s anxiety about reading can prohibit growth in literacy. For all children, but particularly for students with learning differences, being read to takes away the anxiety of having to read on their own, especially if they are not strong readers.
Reading aloud to children has benefits beyond the school walls. At home, picking up a book instead of a device is not always easy. I suggest to parents they instill a digital-free hour before bedtime and read to, or with, their children. Children are never too old to be read aloud to.
I encourage educators and parents to read aloud to their children every day and watch these young minds blossom. By fostering a love for reading and books, our children will be poised to grow and learn in this highly digital society.
Claudia Nachtigal, Bel Air
Claudia Nachtigal is head of school at The Highlands School in Bel Air.