How Online Book Read-Alouds Can Help Students’ Literacy and Connection During Social Distancing

“Benefits of Reading Aloud 

Reading aloud to kids—even older ones who could easily do the reading themselves—offers multiple benefits.

According to research, read-alouds provide academic boosts to developing readers. They help develop young children’s phonological awareness and “emergent literacy ability,” boost vocabulary, and develop word mastery and grammatical understanding.

2008 review in the Archives of Disease in Childhood assessed that “Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emerging literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent.”

Reading aloud also improves comprehension by building background knowledge—especially if the reader stops to check for understanding. A recent small studyout of England showed that teenagers who had challenging books read aloud to them had greater reading comprehension than when they read them on their own.

Back in the 1970s, journalist Jim Trelease found that reading aloud to his own children not only cultivated vocabulary and background knowledge, but also forged a love of reading as a shared family activity. His popular book now in its seventh edition, The Read-Aloud Handbook, shares research and best practices for both parents and educators.

In the book, Trelease goes into detail of all the cognitive and academic benefits that reading aloud to children provides. But it’s perhaps his words on the emotional benefits of what reading aloud does for families and relationships that feels so pertinent in this time of quarantine, isolation and social distancing.

“We read to children for all the same reasons we talk with children,” Trelease wrote. “To reassure, to entertain, to bond, to inform or explain, to arouse curiosity, and to inspire.””