I am a parent of two older, ELL children. My daughter is almost 12, and my son is 8. Neither can read much beyond a first grade level right now. So reading aloud to them at bedtime is something we always do. I think I take for granted that all parents read aloud to their children, regardless of their age and abilities. But that's not the case at all, is it?
When children begin reading independently, or sometimes even before that, we assume they have outgrown the need to be read aloud to. But we're wrong. The read-aloud benefits for a child continue even as they get into upper elementary, middle school, and beyond.
A parent typically has a higher reading level than their child, so even after your child is reading on their own, by reading to them, you are exposing them richer and more advanced vocabulary. They can take in that rich vocab by listening to a story, even if it's beyond their reading level.
Reading aloud also gives parents of older kids the opportunity to introduce to their children new authors, encourage the trial of a new genre, and a general broadening of their horizons. You might be surprised at how open your child is to your books suggestions, if they sense that you are genuinely taking their interests and tastes into account with your suggestions. And perhaps they might broaden your horizons with their book suggestions.
As children advance into their teens, reading aloud to them allows you to encourage reading by sharing interesting things with them that you have read. Maybe it doesn't have to be bedtime reading. It could be a bit of an interesting newspaper or magazine article, a funny passage from a book your reading on your own, or a review of a book or a movie.
Ending the read-aloud tradition might seem to a child like the end of you caring whether or not they read. It can send the message that reading just isn't important anymore, that you read with them only because it's necessary and not because it's enjoyable.
But continuing the read-loud as your child grows means continuing the bonding. Sharing a book together is something intimate and special. It opens doors for wonderful discussions. It's a shared experience that will live on forever in the memory and the heart of your child... and you!
What are you reading aloud with your older child?