Reading Aloud Is Good for Parents Too

Looking for something in a cupboard the other day I came across these picture books from our children’s toddler days which I have never been able to throw out. They’re dog eared and sellotaped and scribbled on, they’re more than 30 years old and I think I found an ancient rice crispy stuck between two pages. They should probably go in the recycling bin but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Browsing through them transports me back to those days when every single day I read these (or other) stories aloud. Days taken up with toddler groups and nursery runs and toys and games and jigsaws; making child friendly meals, nursing fretful babies, wiping runny noses and standing on Lego. All of these memories triggered by simply turning the pages in some tatty old books! As I looked through them the illustrations and stories were as familiar to me now as they were all those years ago - Quentin Blake’s wonderfully crazy Mr Magnolia; long-suffering Mrs Large in Five Minute's’ Peace (with whom I identified and empathised) and good old Max in Where The Wild Things Are - “The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind……and another”.

I know that reading aloud to children is beneficial in so many ways - it exposes them to rich and varied vocabulary, helps them understand the world they live in, fosters a love of books and prepares them for learning to read themselves. Google “reading aloud to children” and you’ll come up with umpteen reasons why it is so important and there’s lots of research to back this up.

But it’s not just about providing experiences which will hopefully help them to become confident readers, there’s something much more to it than that. Having a time in the day when you can snuggle up together to share a story, talk about the pictures, laugh at funny bits and sympathise with sad bits creates a safe, comforting and relaxing space that’s a counterbalance to the full-on busyness of family life for both you and your child. I realise that those toddler years can take on a rosy glow when you’re looking back after so many years so don’t think I’ve forgotten the everyday reality of temper tantrums and non stop questions and broken nights!

I was trying to work out why those old books mean so much to me and I think that maybe it’s because a little bit of me and a little bit of my children are inextricably woven into every page.

I’d love to know if there’s a particular book that has special memories for you.

PS I haven’t received any sponsorship for this post - I just thought you might like links to the books I’ve mentioned!

Elaine KentComment