The Three B’s

The Reading Tree Series

Why Read-aloud is Important


How do you feel when you see these books: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Charlotte’s Web,” or “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” on a bookshelf? I would bet many of you get a warm feeling inside. You might not fully comprehend why you have fond memories associated with books that you loved as a child, but I would imagine that someone read those books aloud to you and created positive, emotional connections that will last a lifetime.

Research funded by the U.S. Department of Education has shown that reading aloud to your child, “is the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading.” Susan Kemper, a psycholinguist, who studies what factors enable humans to acquire, use, and comprehend language, explains that giving your child read aloud experiences proves “to be the most important thing a parent can do with their children.”

So, why are read alouds so important for your growing child? Here are the “Three B’s” to help you remember:

  • Building- When you read aloud to a child, you are building a pre-reading foundation that helps strengthen their phonemic (word-sound) awareness, language development, and background knowledge. For example, if you are reading “The Very Busy Spider,” by Eric Carle and you say the word ‘spider’ stressing the beginning “s” sound repeatedly, you are reinforcing that letters have sounds. What a quick, yet meaningful phonemic awareness building block!

     Read alouds also build a deeper connection with words by allowing the child to both hear them and see them. When you give a child the opportunity to simultaneously hear and see words, author Jim Trelease says, “you are effectively getting words into your child’s brain.” Read alouds also expose children to build background knowledge on topics they may not encounter in their everyday life. For instance, if you read “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale” with your child, you are opening her mind to a culture that is otherwise beyond comprehension.

  • Bonding- We want to plant seeds in a child’s brain so that when they see a book or are given a chance to read, they are genuinely excited about it. Read alouds provide precious opportunities for you to help children develop a positive relationship towards books. The more enjoyable a child’s experience with books, the more the thirst for reading will increase. You can ensure this by making read aloud times both special and comfortable for your child. Author Jim Trelease says, “read aloud times help condition a child’s brain to positively bond with books.” Let’s give children a chance to develop an enjoyable bond with books so that they actually get excited when a 4th grade book report is assigned!
  • Broadening- According to a study done by Hart and Dr. Risley at the University of Kansas, they found that “a child’s vocabulary entering Kindergarten is the prime predictor of school success or failure.” The study also showed that children entering Kindergarten have heard between 13 million and 46 million words.  That is a HUGE gap that can have a significant impact on a child’s development and life trajectory. When reading aloud to a child, you are fueling their brain with vocabulary that they otherwise would not hear in their daily dialogue. Read alouds also provide opportunities for the child to make auditory and visual word connections and give you time to explain new vocabulary so that they are able to comprehend the new words better. Let’s broaden our children’s vocabulary by exposing them to more words through meaningful read-alouds!

Joanna Merideth


Resources to inspire and motivate you to read aloud:

PoutPoutFishThe Pout-Pout Fish~ by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna= with its repetitive sentences and emotional sea characters.  Your child will laugh as they relate to the Pout-Pout Fish!



ChickaChicka Chicka Boom Boom~ by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert
With alphabet letters coming alive and its musical sentence structure, your child will love the beat of this book as they befriend the alphabet!


This website gives great visual graphs and explains read aloud research:  CLICK HERE

Don’t have time to read Jim Trelease’s “The Read Aloud Handbook,?” visit this website for some interesting facts about reading aloud to your child:  CLICK HERE

Need more reasons reading aloud to your child is important?
Read an article from The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) website:  CLICK HERE

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