Reading Aloud at Any Age

If you spend any time talking to a lower primary teacher, they will inevitably tell you that you should be reading aloud to your child as the benefits of reading aloud to young children are bountiful.

Children learn new vocabulary by being exposed to it. However, there are far more new words that a child is exposed to by reading when compared to just conversation. The adult can explain new vocabulary to the child during the read-aloud time. The adult can also model how to react to new words or difficult to read words by showing different strategies to learn how to read a new word.

With this expanded vocabulary, young children are also more curious and more engaged with the reading; thus, helping to develop their listening and comprehension. During solo reading, a child can skip over confusing sections. However, during a read-aloud, the adult can explain the confusing areas. They can help a child make connections to their own life and recall reading similar situations in other books.

Reading aloud to young children also increases family bonds. This dedicated parent/child time is screen-free and distraction-free and teaches your child that a love for reading is lifelong.


But something happens as the child grows up. Once they become a more proficient reader, adults think the read-aloud is no longer needed. However, this is not the case; all of the benefits above still hold true once your child is a fluent reader, and more even come into play.

While reading vocabulary typically catches up to spoken language around age 13, other skills are still being worked on when you read to your fluent reader. Now that your child is older, their books will deal with more complex topics and social situations. Reading aloud allows you to help your child develop empathy and have meaningful discussions about the moral choices characters are poised with.

Also, reading aloud to an older child can continue building and maintaining a longer attention span. In an age of instant gratification and demand for eyes on screen from advertisers, this screen-free time teaches your older child to attend to one thing at a time and for an age-appropriate amount of time (a reasonable attention span is 2 or 3 times your child’s age in minutes: 5 years old = 10-15 minutes; 12 years old = 24 – 36 minutes; 16 years old = 32-48 minutes, etc.).

There may come a time when your child will no longer find read-aloud time enjoyable and see it as a chore instead of a reward. That is when it is best to switch from a read-aloud to reading independently at the same time. This continued show of a life-long love of reading reinforces to the older child that reading is still essential to you and your family. It still provides family time and screen-free time and still makes you available to answer their questions.

So I charge you to not give up on read-aloud once your child is an independent reader, and if you need to, pick it up again or create a reading-only time as part of your nightly rituals.

Works Referenced

Brain Balance. (n.d.). Normal Attention Span Expectations By Age. Brain Balance | We Have a Plan for Kids Who Struggle. Retrieved December 27, 2021, from

Cocozza, P. (2016, September 9). How old is too old for a bedtime story? | Books | The Guardian. The Guardian; The Guardian.

Merga, M. K. (2019, February 13). There are numerous benefits to reading aloud to your kids | SBS Life. Topics.

Natasha. (2017, May 7). When is the Best Time to Stop Reading Aloud to Your Child? Reading Is Better than Chocolate.

Packhem, J. S. (2017, September 27). When Should You Stop Reading to Your Kids? Never, and Here’s Why.

Teach Like A Champion. (2017, April 25). Why Reading Aloud to Students is So Critical to Vocabulary - Teach Like a Champion. Teach Like a Champion.

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