Reading aloud to your child strengthens the part of their brain associated with visual imagery, the ability to understand stories and word meaning. Eight-year-olds still love the comfort of cuddling up for a good story. And with your help, they can also pick up on important book smarts, like information about authors, illustrators, chapters, the table of contents, page numbers, indexes and back covers. These skills are called "concepts about print," and they help kids prepare to be successful independent readers.
Literacy The Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Eight-Year-Old
Make the most out of story time:
Take Turns Reading
During read-aloud time, take turns reading to each other. This builds children's fluency and gives them an authentic audience to read to. You can alternate paragraphs, pages or chapters. For some extra fun, check out a children's play or a reader's theater collection from the library and take on the roles of different characters.
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Make Story Predictions
Experts recommend that parents and caregivers ask kids to predict what will happen next when reading a book together. This builds key literacy skills such as understanding sequencing, plot structure, character motivation and cause and effect. It's as simple as stopping periodically and asking questions like:
- What do you think is going to happen next?
- Oh no! What is she going to do now?
- What would you do if you were him?
- How are they going to solve this problem?
After they share their idea, respond with "Let's keep reading and find out what happens."
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Get a Library Card
Parents sometimes struggle to find books that will hold their child's attention. The children's room at your local library can be your best ally. Browse the stacks and displays or — better yet — ask the librarian for recommendations based on your child's age and interests. Many libraries host story hour — a great opportunity not only to expose your child to reading but also to hear how another adult reads and engages kids with books. For online book recommendations by age, try Reading Rockets great read alouds for babies through Grade 3.
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Make Connections to Real Life
Strong readers aren't passive — their minds are constantly making connections between what they read and the world around them. As you read aloud, pause to connect the book to other books you have read together, to your memories or to places or events you both know. For example:
- The grandma in this story reminds me of your grandma. They both love making pies and telling stories.
- Look at all those tall buildings! It looks a little bit like New York City, where your aunt lives.
- The kids seem nervous about the first day of school. Do you remember your first day of school?
- There's a wizard in this story! What other stories have we read about a wizard?
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Pause Before Turning the Page
It's tempting to rush through books on the way to another activity. But by occasionally pressing the "pause button" before you turn a page — stopping to notice something about a picture, to explain a word, to ask a question, to make room for your child to ask a question — you can support your child's learning. Prompts like these show kids that you are engaged in the story too: "Wow. Why did he do that?" or "Oh my. I wonder what she's going to do now!"
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