Why we should all be reading aloud to children | Rebecca Bellingham | [email protected]


Translator: Denise RQ
Reviewer: Robert Deliman 15 years ago, I was a teaching artist
in the New York City public schools, and one of my projects
was adapting and directing a production of “Charlotte’s Web” with a group of third graders at PS 220, the Mott Haven Village School
in the South Bronx. As a way to begin our work together, I read aloud the first chapter from
E. B. White’s famous and beautiful book. As some of us may recall, the story begins with Fern
learning that her father, Mr. Arable, is off to the hoghouse to kill the runt
of the litter with his axe. (Reading) “Please don’t kill it,”
she sobbed, “It’s unfair.” Mr. Arable stopped walking. “Fern,” he said gently, “you will have to learn
to control yourself.” “Control myself?” yelled Fern; “This is a matter of life and death,
and you talk about controlling myself?” Tears ran down her cheeks,
and she took hold of the axe and tried to pull it
out of her father’s hand. (Reading ends) Well, the pig is saved,
and later that morning, Fern discovers a carton
on her chair at breakfast. (Reading) As she approached her chair,
the carton wobbled, and there was a scratching noise. Fern looked at her father,
then she lifted the lid of the carton. There, inside, looking up at her
was the newborn pig. It was a white one. The morning light shone
through its ears, turning them pink. “He is yours,” said Mr. Arable,
“Saved from an untimely death. And may the good Lord
forgive me for this foolishness.” Fern couldn’t take her eyes
off the tiny pig. “Oh!” she whispered, “Oh! Look at him! He is absolutely perfect.” She closed the carton carefully, for she kissed her father,
then she kissed her mother, then she opened the lid again, lifted the pig out
and held it against her cheek. (Reading ends) Well, when I finished reading the chapter,
the kids lined up for lunch, and a little boy named Joey
tugged at my sleeve and he said, “Miss B., I felt like I was right there. Like, I could really see that little pig. I never got inside a book
before like that.” Well, I was thrilled
that Joey was enjoying the story, but, to be perfectly honest, at the time, I was much more concerned
with how in the world we were going to make
all those farm animal costumes just using pillow cases, and whether the kids
would memorize all their lines or not. They did. And we did. And everytime I visited that classroom, the kids couldn’t wait
for me to read aloud to them again. For all the kids in the audience: would you raise your hand
if you really like it when teachers read aloud to you
or parents read aloud to you? Or adults? Do you remember
being read to? And loving it? Well, I’ve been an educator
for almost 20 years. And I’ve read thousands
and thousands of pages aloud. And I’ve never met a group of kids
who didn’t love it, who were immune to the spell
of a great book being read aloud. As a teacher and a mom,
I can’t think of many things that matter as much
as reading aloud to our kids. At all ages. At school and at home. Because reading aloud gives kids
a special kind of access to the transformative power of story, and the experience
of what real reading is all about, which is to deeply understand, to think, to learn and discuss
big ideas about the world, about the lives of others
and about ourselves. So, when I think back to what Joey said
to me all those years ago, “Miss B., I felt like I was right there.
Like, I could really see that little pig. I never got inside a book
before like that.” I’m struck by this idea that reading aloud for Joey made it possible for him
to get inside a book; as though before that experience
he was outside. Because Joey is not alone
in feeling that way. Reading for a lot of kids
can feel like a locked building. Without the right key or the right code, or the right experiences,
they can’t get in. They feel like they’re outside. Because for some kids,
dealing with the code, the tangle of letters and sounds,
tricky words and vocabulary, is a more difficult process
for any number of reasons. The decoding of words
takes up so much brain energy, they don’t have
a lot of brain space left over to actually take in the story
or the meaning. For other kids,
the decoding isn’t so difficult, but it can sometimes feel like they’re
just translating words across a page, like how I might do with a medical
textbook or a medical journal. I could translate or decode the words, but I wouldn’t be able to understand them,
or think, or talk about them. How many of us here have found ourselves
halfway down a page only to realize, “I have no idea what I just read.” (Laughter) When teachers and parents read aloud,
we do the decoding work. We deal with the print
and the tricky vocabulary and words, and we free kids to think. So they can use all their brain energy to imagine the story
and learn new information. So all children listening have access to the amazing reading party
happening inside the building. And we want kids to get in the building
and get to the party and stay there. Even while they’re still strengthening
their decoding or comprehension or vocabulary muscles
in books they can read on their own. Because even when kids
are reading on their own, reading aloud to them
has a tremendous impact on their independent reading lives. Because when kids go back
to their own books, they know that world should come alive
in their brains as they read. They know that real readers pause
to wonder, think, ask questions. They know that real readers
let the stories affect them. Maybe even change them. Because the way that we stop and react
at something that we read aloud gives us an opportunity
to model compassion, to wonder aloud in a genuine way about a choice
a character or a community made. When we read aloud, we can help kids
walk in the shoes of people who might be
radically different from themselves. Or see reflections of themselves, which might make them feel less alone or more hopefull. What happens
when we walk in the shoes of Kek, a young refugee from Sudan
who comes to Minessota after seeing his brother
and father killed in a war? What can we learn from Auggie, who was born with a rare facial anomaly? Or Delphine, who is eleven years old
and goes to Oakland, California in 1968 to meet her mom for the first time,
who is active in the Black Panther Party? Or Annemarie, who helps her best friend
escape to Denmark during The Holocaust? We can give kids access to stories, and books,
and ideas, and information that they otherwise
might not get a chance to explore, or explore as deeply. And finally, reading aloud
gives us a chance to look up from our screens,
our phones, our computers; to connect with each other through the simple act of reading
and talking together. When we read aloud at school
we’re often gathered together in one place and we’re teaching kids
how to talk together, how to listen, how to look each other in the eye and say:
“What do you think?” To say, “I think differently
and here is why.” But we’re also creating moments
of connectedness and joy in our classrooms, on a daily basis. And at home, it’s a chance to carve out a time
when we’re not on our phones, but we’re entirely focused on our kids. Or we pull up alongside them
and read and talk together. Even when they can’t sit
in our laps anymore. Even and perhaps especially
when they rather be on their phones. Even when they’re not three or four, but they’re eight, ten, twelve, a teenager and they might not be as inclined
to share so much with us anymore. Having a book to lean on
can help us get inside them. In her new book, Reclaiming Conversation, Sherry Turkle reminds us
how esential face to face conversation is. She says, “We’re tempted to think
that our little sips of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation, but they don’t.” I believe that reading aloud together provides an opportunity for a big gulp. For a chance to connect and talk together,
in consistent meaningful ways. So the kids not only fall in love
with books and reading, and get better at it, but they also learn to think deeply, to consider other points of view. They learn to listen
and they learn to look up. Thank you. (Applause)

50 thoughts on “Why we should all be reading aloud to children | Rebecca Bellingham | [email protected]

  1. Great this was a very informative presentation I'm very passionate about reading aloud that's why I started a nonprofit that focuses on reading and giving books to children and I am a reading tutor/reading motivator. Please go to my YouTube channel abc read abc learn and check out my read alouds.

  2. Excellent presentation – I gave you a standing ovation! … And now I'm going to look up and have a conversation.

  3. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I have a 12 year old daughter, and I have not read to her since she was five. Why, I am going to read aloud to her starting tonight. You are absolutely right, it's a special moment for all of us. I vividly recall the Oprah interview with JK Rowling, the part when she read aloud. Even as an adult, I could still feel the magic.Well, thank you again. You must be a wonderful teacher.

  4. My son took part in reading support services when he was in first grade. This fantastic reading guide “fetching loli only” (Google it) has helped a lot in improving the reading skills of my son while he`s on grade level and his development really surprised his reading trainer. For me personally, this program must be used in school.

  5. We started using this reading guideline “Wamzοzο Loli” (Google it) over a year. My daughter is constantly improving her reading capabilities up to now. She now reads beginning chapter books and is a splendid speller. She writes sentences and some short stories as well.

  6. She was frightened of reading at the start – afraid of being mistaken. I used this reading guideline “fetching loli only” (Google it) for two months and later discovered that she is already reading beginner novels on her own! We are very impressed with the results! The program is fantastic for any age limit.

  7. Rebecca,
    This was an amazing presentation. Early literacy skills should be reinforced by parents at all time. Reading aloud to children allows parents to create a strong bond between them that they don't even realize they are doing. Many parents worry that because they do not speak "English", they are unable to partake in the act of read aloud activities with their children; on the contrary! Parents can read to their children in their native language and share stories just the same. I loved how you shared a brief description on the different books that children are required to read at school. There are so many books and stories that open a whole world of imaginative travel for children that allow them to expand their knowledge. Books and stories allow the reader to escape into unknown worlds of wonder and further expand their creativity. Parents can introduce all of these amazing storytelling techniques and reading formats by modeling proper word decoding and segmenting.
    Great presentation!

  8. Love it! I’m a reading teacher in 4th grade and agree with all that you said! I use different voices and am goofy at times. Lol

  9. Cheers for the Video! Sorry for the intrusion, I would love your opinion. Have you researched – Millawdon Future Ticket Trick (Have a quick look on google cant remember the place now)? It is an awesome one off guide for teaching children to read minus the hard work. Ive heard some interesting things about it and my friend Sam after many years got cool success with it.

  10. I have just shared your talk. What a beautiful presentation on something I am so passionate about. I too am an educator and believe every word you said.

  11. A great speech! I have been reading to my girl for a long time. I simply love this. In this video she inspires us to be better and do our best. My big clap for her. 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

  12. Very well put, and SO true! I can also attest to the power of reading aloud and the fact that often those kids who don't like reading themselves can be absolutely spell-bound by a well read story. I'm going to add some tips to maximise the magic of the reading experience for anyone new to this: Beware of ambient noise(major story killer!), delivery matters(If you're not into it, why would they be?) and particularly for younger readers, involve them(don't just stick to the script on the page – ask questions, think aloud, react to the images, etc.) 🙂

  13. Amazing. Thank you. I must practice reading aloud now. I have difficulty saying it clearly. Now that's a technique, read for children to explore and get inside the building of reading. Thank you.

  14. Excellent speech, my mom never did that when i was a kid, besides where i live we've never had a bookstore or library. when i grew up i realized that i was a little behind my friends in terms of education and thats when it hit me i wasn't having the right education just bc i was poor ,it's difficult to do something or have a good education and u don't have nothing to support u or something simple like have teaches. today im helping my little brother with his reading skills by reading e-books for him, anyway does anyone has any children's book recommendations, like the type of book she was reading in the beginning, if so write them down below

  15. When I was a child my mother would read to me at night, and my wife and I read to our children. I have family members who put their kids in front of the TV and some of children had major problems. Reading to your children will not guarantee success, but it will always be remembered by them.

  16. Amazing speech, Read Aloud gives child a special kind of access, says Rebecca Bellingham. Child understand what is real reading about, they could imagine it. Children may face difficulty in understanding the words and vocabulary in a book, where they never get to know what were they been reading. We teachers and parents do the decoding work and make children free to think, to imagine the story and be a part of it. Reading aloud gives us chance to look up, which comes up with reading and talking together. I agree with Rebecca, where she says she believes that reading aloud builds an opportunity to connect and talk together inconsistent in meaningful ways, where children don’t only love reading, but where this gives them opportunities to learn think deeply.

  17. Thanks for the video content! Sorry for chiming in, I am interested in your initial thoughts. Have you considered – Millawdon Future Ticket Trick (search on google)? It is an awesome one off guide for teaching children to read minus the headache. Ive heard some pretty good things about it and my work buddy after a lifetime of fighting got amazing results with it.

  18. Don't stop reading to your children! Of course, children should learn to read independently. But share reading has many benefits, even for kids who decode accurately. It can broaden reading horizons. It’s an opportunity to have deep, intellectual discussions. And it sends a message about the value you place on reading.

  19. Thank you Rebecca! I used to teach 7th grade language arts in an inner city school and my students LOVED it when I read to them. This description of how reading aloud to kids is different from them reading on their own is spot on..it's the best explanation I've ever heard. Great talk and thank you!

  20. I recall how important reading to my children when they were young was to as well as to them. We lived in a small, isolated community, and the biweekly arrival of the bookmobile was an exciting and important event.

  21. I've always has anxiety when reading aloud because our high school teacher would basically make us read textbooks out loud to the class as punishment and the class would snigger and laugh at the victim when they struggled. I do read to my 5 month old baby and will continue to do so but I really don't have the charisma that people like Rebecca

  22. I teach 1st grade and I read to them several times a day. A friend asked me if that wasn’t a waste of time, my heart hurt. I’m trying to teach these babies how to do something really hard. Why not show them the reward at the end?

  23. Wow, she’s amazing!!!!! I just realized after listening to her, I had really horrible teachers that weren’t patient with me , parents that NEVER read to me or helped me with my homework & reading.. I just couldn’t get into a book, couldn’t understand and worried about how i sound when reading out loud… It messed me up and have insecurities about it….HOWEVER, I will never fail my child like my past teachers & parents did to me when I was kid ….

  24. Well, this lady also has a really lovely voice.. I wish she could come to my bedside and read me stories and we're almost the same age..!

  25. Great points and delivered in a pleasant manner. My favourite time of the day is a story time with my 2 boys. There are 3 and 6, but I hope I can read to them for many years to come. Reading aloud really is a special time.

  26. Reading to my kids is one of the Joy's of parenthood. For me it's the calm and soothing part of the day where we can be still and just enjoy each other.

  27. She was frightened of reading in the beginning – scared of being wrong. Yet soon after Two months followed this reading guide “Wamzοzο Loli” (Gοοgle it), she has started beginner novels and also reads through herself! The outcomes really satisfied me! Whatever grade level your kid is in right now..
    .

  28. At 14 months old, my very own kid has started to read and I executed the coaching. Though I am uncertain with regards to teaching my son the right way to read at a very young age, I decided to undertake it and utilized this studying guide “Wamzοzο Loli” (Gοοgle it). Now that he`s two years and four months old, he is able to read an entire book without me aiding him..
    .

  29. As an ESL teacher, I have seen many cases when the 5th grade English Learners decode but could not enjoy and understand what they were reading. Thank you for sharing this. I will bring more culturally relevantes reading to them and spend more time modeling and helping them make connections ❤️

  30. I stopped reading to my son about 2 years ago.. I only do it occasionally when he asked me to do so.. Thank you for reminding me to read to my son again…

  31. yes, thank you! it's so important and i'm so lucky that my dad always read to me until 6th or 7th grade, which made me love reading books. my primary school teachers also read a lot to us and i'm just so thankful for it. without my dad and them i don't know if i would have this love for books that i have now..

  32. It’s remarkable to find your own children read books perfectly and you do not need to stress about it. I was completely fascinated. After a week from beginning this reading manual “Wamzοzο Loli” (Gοοgle it), she can, in fact, spell 3-letter words and phrases by herself and not from memory!..
    .

  33. Hello Rebecca.. i almost wanted you not to stop reading lol. I have few qns.
    1. How soon would you recommend reading to babies?
    2. What books would you recommend for baby boys? My boy is three months now.

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