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For any child, time spent reading is time that is valuable. This is doubly so in middle school-age students, where expanding their reading ability is critical for being successful in practically every subject. But with such a packed curriculum, and so little room to carve out for extra support, getting students the level of reading they need is a challenge

As teachers, we should work hard to ensure that we spend at least a little time a day reading aloud for our students to get the full benefit.

What makes reading aloud so important?

According to the Center for Teaching, reading aloud can:

  • Provide a basis for a community in the classroom, allowing for the development of critical thinking skills
  • Offer opportunities for discussions and the connection of ideas and experiences based on existing knowledge and current information
  • Model fluent reading and correct punctuation, intonation and expression to students
  • Help students develop a greater understanding of the effects of different language on behavior, emotion, and comprehension

With so many vital milestones for development connected to reading and comprehension of materials, reading aloud to your students is an incredibly valuable asset that we all too often allow to fall to the wayside, in exchange for further testing, extra lessons, and other subject matter. But reading is the basis for just about every other subject; without that foundation, the rest of the building will crumble.

If you’re still wondering why reading aloud to students is so vital, read on for just a few pointers to help you understand why reading to your students is more important than ever:

Don’t assume that reading happens at home

We like to think that parents do everything they can to support their children, from providing them with time and support to do homework to encouraging them to learn and develop in the best ways possible. But in the modern world, everyone is busy and has too little time on their hands – including parents. Whether it’s working long hours, caring for siblings or actual neglect, many children don’t get the chance to read aloud with their parents at home. As teachers, we can’t affect what goes on in a child’s home life; but we can help them to succeed in the classroom.

If children aren’t allowed to enjoy reading, it’s likely that the joy and wonder that books can bring will entirely pass them by. While some school administrators consider reading aloud to be a ‘waste of time,’ know that, to many of your students, it may be the only chance they get to enjoy reading, especially if they don’t have the same level of opportunity at home.

Reading can support learning in every other subject

A child that can’t read to the level required is a student that quickly falls behind the rest of the class. As a teacher, it’s your goal to provide students with the tools they need to succeed in their testing, and later on in life. Reading is a fundamental need to do well in exams, understand homework, and even keep up with work in the classroom. By investing a little extra time in improving your student’s understanding of reading – both fiction and non-fiction – and providing them with the ability to think about books beyond just listening, then you’re offering real ways to help them to go further and do more in their life.

A love of reading and time spent reading per day can be considered real indicators of a child’s ability to achieve things later in life, according to some studies. Children that have the opportunity to be read to, as well as to read by themselves, are far more likely to have an enhanced vocabulary, greater understanding of the world around them and more academic success. Reading is the root of the tree of learning, and it needs to be tended to first for your students to get where they need to go.

It’s the next step to reading solo

Often, we’re too quick to jump from our students learning their A-B-Cs to expecting them to read solo. Reading is far more nuanced than simply knowing the letters and words, and it’s essential to understand the meaning and comprehend the purpose of books as much as it is to understand the words themselves. Reading aloud can be the perfect way to open a conversation and encourage children to think deeper beyond the words on the page. Not only does this allow you to track their development, but it also provides them with a different way to learn – something that’s much-needed when it comes to a highly regulated curriculum.

Do you read aloud to your students? If so, have you found taking the time out to read valuable to your class as a whole?