Should I make my child read alone, or should I read aloud to them?

(Photo from from free images.)

I get this question asked of me during parent teacher conferences on a consistent basis. My answer is always yes. Then I will get a puzzled look from the parent or guardian because the answer was yes, and it clearly didn’t answer the specific question that was asked.

Reading is one of those things that can be done alone, with a buddy, or with a group! If we want our children to read and love it, sometimes we need to explore all kinds of options.

I will address a few ideas in this post and this may get your creative thinking rolling. As a parent, we spend time reading to our infants and small children. Once the child starts to read on their own, many times we think it is no longer necessary to sit and read to them. So, we send them off to their room to read. I can hear myself, “Just go to your room and read a book!” I am quite certain that I missed some opportunities to inspire a joy of reading for my kiddos. But, I guess that now that I know better, I will share this wisdom with you.

I know we are all very busy and sometimes we just simply don’t want to take the time to sit and read with our kids. There are dishes to do, laundry is piled up in on the floor, we still don’t even know what we are having for supper! Like I said, we just don’t have time to get things done. But, if we really want our kiddos to love reading, we might want to give ourselves permission to ignore the dishes and the laundry for a bit, and squeeze in a few moments before we mix up a quick supper.

Reading to your child is an amazing way to spend time together and bond. But, it sends a strong message to your child that reading is important. It also gives them an opportunity to hear the language you are reading to them in. I don’t want to assume you are reading a book in English, because you could live in Germany and reading in German. But my point is, when we read, we are sharing the language. Kids need to hear the language to become fluent. Many times the child hears the words, but doesn’t necessarily know how to say the words.

In older children, who can already read independently, reading aloud to them as they follow along can really help support multisyllabic words. A great example of this is the word photographer. Many times the kids will read it as photo grapher instead of the actual pronunciation of the word. If they hear you read it correctly as you share the text with them, then many times they will become familiar with it, and then read it correctly once they are reading independently. Perhaps you want them to read to you as well!

You have now had some great bonding time, and your child has heard the language, and you may have heard them read as well. The good news is, this really only needs to take 10-15 minutes. So, I guess supper can still get on the table!

This idea of reading alone also needs to be nurtured. Even if your child is not an independent reader, spending time with books is crucial. It allows your child time to explore pictures and text. Even if you don’t think they are reading, their brains are starting to make connections. Take time to go to the library and bring home board books for the little ones. Bring home picture books for the younger kiddos. Time looking at these books is building background information that can applied when the books are read to them, but it also builds background information for life and for support in writing.

Reading alone allows older children time to dive into different genres. Having a variety of books available allows children to spend time learning how different authors write. They can decide what they like and don’t like. Older children and even adults love picture books and graphic novels. Allow time in all of these texts.

As I stated earlier, it is important to read to your child, but it is also important to allow your child to read on their own. But, one of the best things you can do to build comprehension skills, is to ask your child about the books they are reading. If they can tell you about it, they are working on their comprehension skills. If they struggle with this, ask them what the liked about the book. That will then lead to other questions about the characters, setting, problem, and solution to the story. If they are reading non-fiction, then you can ask the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the text.

As you are reading, ask questions, laugh, wonder, and talk about the books. Sit back, relax, and have some fun with your child. Whether you realize it or not, that time will fly by. Make the most of it!

If you are seeking help with your child’s learning in the form of support or enrichment, reach out to me. I would be happy to visit with you about what your child may need support with. If the joy or reading just isn’t developing, I can work with your child to support them. You can reach me at for more information.

(photo from

Published by Tutoring with Sheryl

I have 32 years of experience teaching in public schools in Nebraska. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincon. I hold a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane University. I have 2 Google for Education Certifications. I have been tutoring online for 1 year. I have worked with countless students of all ages to support their education. I also support teachers with planning and management in their classrooms.

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