Kickstarting 2017 with the Read Aloud Revival Challenge

It’s the start of a new year and we’ve decided to kick it off by joining the Read Aloud Revival Challenge.

Read Aloud Revival Challenge

What is the Read Aloud Revival Challenge?

The Read Aloud Revival Challenge was a concept developed by Sarah MacKenzie. The challenge encourages children to read aloud every day (or as often as possible) for at least 15 minutes. They can read aloud to anyone they want to, even their stuffed toys. The important thing is that they read aloud. The goal is to read aloud for at least 25 days in January – the more the better. Of course, you don’t have to limit this to January. You can continue this activity throughout the year if you want to.

The goal of this challenge is to help children inculcate good reading habits and to develop a love for books. Even if you have a child who loves to read, like we do, there are other great reasons to participate in the Read Aloud Revival Challenge.

Reading Aloud Offers Multiple Benefits

In his book Train Your Brain, Dr Ryuta Kawashima wrote about the benefits of reading aloud as a method for training your brain. Of the various activities he looked at, including thinking, solving math calculations, watching TV, writing, and reading, he found that reading aloud and solving simple math calculations quickly activated the most parts of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for executive function. Although most of Dr Kawashima’s research demonstrates the benefits of reading aloud in the older population, he believes that reading aloud could be a simple way to training the prefrontal cortex.

In Read & Write It Out Loud! Guided Oral Literacy Strategies, Polette highlights more reasons why reading out loud can help children, including:

  • Enhancing fluency
  • Strengthening comprehension
  • Developing critical reading skills
  • Developing other important reading skills
  • Helping struggling readers
  • Building confidence
  • Facilitating collaborative learning
  • Enabling second language learners to make gains in English literacy

Practicing Listening Skills

The rules of the Read Aloud Revival Challenge state that your child may read to anyone they wish. I’ve encouraged the boys to read aloud to each other so that they can also practice their listening skills.

Reading aloud is not only good for the reader but also for the listener. Research supports the benefits of reading aloud to children:

In a controlled longitudinal study, there were significant increases in both receptive and expressive language scores for children 18 months and older in the intervention group; these gains were seen both with respect to specific words which were included in the books given out and also with respect to the general test.

Another study tested children’s language skills directly, and found that scores on a standard picture vocabulary test were significantly higher for both expressive and receptive language in children who had received the [read aloud] intervention than in children from a well matched clinic without the intervention. What is more, the researchers documented a dose-response effect, wherein the more [read aloud] contacts a child had, the higher his expressive and receptive language scores. – The Developing Brain and Early Learning

How Reading Aloud Benefits the Listener

What reading aloud does for the listener:

  • Develops vocabulary
  • Builds connection between the spoken and written word
  • Increases attention span
  • Develops reading interest
  • Strengthens cognitive abilities
  • Promotes bonding and strengthens relationships

Read aloud benefits for the listener are not only limited to young children, but also to older children:

A child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until eighth grade. You can and should be reading seventh-grade books to fifth-grade kids. They’ll get excited about the plot and this will be a motivation to keep reading. A fifth grader can enjoy a more complicated plot than she can read herself, and reading aloud is really going to hook her, because when you get to chapter books, you’re getting into the real meat of print — there is really complicated, serious stuff going on that kids are ready to hear and understand, even if they can’t read at that level yet. – The hidden benefits of reading aloud — even for older kids

Admittedly, this benefit applies more to adults reading to an older child, but it could also apply to an older child reading to a younger child.

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