Most people remember, quite fondly, being read to by their parents before bedtime. Many people have experienced story-time at their school or local library when they were a small child. I have very lovely memories of my mother taking me to my local library in pyjamas for story-time. These events are still popular in many libraries today. However, at a certain age, this wonderful experience ceases. Reading becomes something students are expected to do as part of their assignments, and many young adults forget they can read for pleasure too.
This is why some high school librarians are instigating time for reading aloud to their teen students. Not only do students enjoy being read to, scientific research indicates there are numerous academic benefits to the practice. In the book Reading Aloud and Beyond (2003), authors Giorgis and Serafini demonstrate how reading aloud to young adults not only fosters a love of reading and supports their development as readers and writers, but also improves their reading skills and abilities, and even raises standardised test scores. Chapter two clearly lays out 13 scientifically based reasons to embrace the practice of reading aloud in high schools. The book also provides practical strategies to implement programs and provides extensive lists of suggested literature. Scientific studies have shown that reading aloud, whether to elementary or secondary students, has a variety of benefits. This is also true across cultures, research published in the Journal of King Suad University found a significant positive effect on reading comprehension for Saudi elementary students who were read to aloud by their teachers.
The Read-Aloud Handbook, originally published in 1982, is another popular resource that supports the benefits of reading aloud to teens. Education Week (January 2010) and the School Library Journal (November 2015) have written articles on the topic, summarising research findings and providing some handy tips and anecdotes from teachers and librarians. One great idea from the article is to start reading from the first book in a series, so that students will then want to continue reading the series on their own. There are a multitude of resources available for teachers and librarians wishing to trial this idea. Minimal expenditure is needed, all you require is a little confidence to put yourself out there and use your own voice.
Here are some questions you might like to discuss with your partner:
- Do you recall being read to aloud when you were young? Did you enjoy it?
- How about when you got older?
- Do you think there are good reasons and benefits to reading aloud to young adults in high schools?
– Michelle De Aizpurua, ILN Content Officer.