Reading with older children boosts literacy

August 28, 2017

Reading to all ages: Parents can play a key role in their children's literacy

New research showing more than half of children are not being read to at home, has prompted a call for parents to keep reading aloud to children as long as possible.

Children’s literacy expert Dr Margaret Merga from Murdoch University surveyed 997 students in Years 4 to 6 at 24 schools in Western Australia and found almost 60 per cent of parents had stopped reading aloud to their children.

Other recent research found that more than a third of Australian respondents aged 6 to 11 years whose parents had stopped reading to them wanted it to continue, writes Dr Merga in a paper published in the Australian Journal of Psychology.

“There are many benefits for young people from shared reading experiences and the research suggests we should not stop reading with our children just because they have learned to read independently.

“We should continue reading with our children until they no longer wish to share reading with us, ensuring that these experiences are enjoyable, as they can influence children’s future attitudes toward reading, as well as building their confidence and competence as readers.

“It is worth the effort to find time to share this experience with our children in the early years and beyond.”

Reading aloud fostered the development of listening skills, spelling, reading comprehension and vocabulary, and established essential foundational literacy skills, Dr Merga said.

It was beneficial for cognitive development as parent-child reading activated brain areas that relate to narrative comprehension and mental imagery.

While most of the research in this area focused on young children, the benefits remained as children grew older.

The research paper can be read here.


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Media contact: Eugenie Harris
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