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"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Reading Aloud and SSR

Information on Reading Aloud to Children

[Updated 12/8/16. Please report any dead or missing links using the Contact Me form in the right column.]

Children Better Prepared For School If Their Parents Read Aloud To Them
Young children whose parents read aloud to them have better language and literacy skills when they go to school, according to a review published online ahead of print in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

A Curriculum Staple: Reading Aloud to Teens
The visual richness and often hidden complexity of picture books make them ideal for teens, as Linda Jacobson wrote in a recent article for SLJ. Olga Nesi, the newly appointed librarian at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn, NY, plans to build a picture book collection for read-alouds, research, and countless other purposes. During her 22 years as an educator, many of the teens Nesi has worked with initially “balked at being read to” or described picture books as “babyish.” Partly for this reason, the librarian started referring to the books as “stress-free reading.”

Once her students acclimated to regular read-alouds, they loved them. Nesi’s picture book collections have helped her students gain quick access to different genres and historical eras, and served as mentor pieces. Patricia Polacco’s Pink and Say (Philomel, 1994) was among a stack of titles about the Civil War.

Students who hear picture books aloud often ask to borrow them to read to siblings at home. Trelease writes movingly in his Handbook about a teen parent who began reading to his son after his positive experiences with read-alouds in high school.

Does reading aloud to young children make a difference?
The study identified several specific benefits for children who regularly participated in dialogic reading, including: positive gains in expressive language development, increases in the length of spoken phrases, and greater expressive vocabulary scores.

FREE Parent Brochures on Reading by Jim Trelease
So many teachers and administrators asked Jim Trelease that question, one of his first retirement projects was to create a series of such free handouts. Based on his books, lectures, and films, the tri-fold double-sided brochures are aimed at parents, teachers, librarians—even future teachers and parents.

Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children
The single most important activity for building these understandings and skills essential for reading success appears to be reading aloud to children (Wells 1985; Bus, Van Ijzendoorn, and Pellegrini 1995).

Maximizing the Effectiveness of Reading Aloud
Reading aloud makes important contributions to young children's literacy development, but some methods of reading aloud are much more beneficial than others. Researchers have investigated ways to make read-aloud sessions more meaningful for children, and several methods have emerged as particularly effective. This article examines the role of reading aloud to children and suggests ways for both teachers and parents to maximize the effectiveness of read-aloud sessions with children.

Read Aloud 15 Minutes: Every child. Every parent. Every day.
There is an easy way to improve your child's chances at school. It will entertain and delight him. It will strengthen the bonds between him and you. And it is virtually free.

Sound too good to be true? Actually, it isn't. The magical method: taking time to read aloud to your child.

In an era of high-stakes testing and education reforms and revolutions, research has repeatedly proved that one simple parenting technique is among the most effective. Children who are read aloud to by parents get a head start in language and literacy skills and go to school better prepared.

Reading Aloud to Children: General Tips
This page provides links to many online resources with tips for reading aloud to children. These sources are generally not age specific and should be helpful for parents interested in reading aloud to their children of any age. If you are wondering why reading aloud to your child is important, find out here. Age specific resources can be found on the babies/preschoolers page and the school-aged children page of this website.

Reading aloud to children: the evidence
Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emergent literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent. In addition it can promote a love for reading which is even more important than improving specific literacy skills. When parents hold positive attitudes towards reading, they are more likely to create opportunities for their children that promote positive attitudes towards literacy and they can help children develop solid language and literacy skills. When parents share books with children, they also can promote children’s understanding of the world, their social skills and their ability to learning coping strategies. When this message is supported by child health professionals during well child care and parents are given the tool, in this case a book, to be successful, the impact can be even greater. This effect may be more important among high risk children in low income families, who have parents with little education, belong to a minority group and do not speak English since they are less likely to be exposed to frequent and interactive shared reading.

Reading Aloud to Kids: The 12 Benefits of Reading Books Out Loud to Children of All Ages
Kids of all ages (and adults, too) benefit from being read to, including even babies and toddlers.

"Children are never too young to have stories read to them," says Nancy Verhoek-Miller, a specialist in early childhood education at Mississippi State University.

The benefits are so profound, and kids form so much of their intelligence potential during the early years of their life, that experts recommend reading aloud to your child as soon as he or she is born, and continuing indefinitely.

Reading Aloud with Children of All Ages
Reading aloud gives children background knowledge, which helps them make sense of what they see, hear, and read. The more adults read aloud to children, the larger their vocabularies will grow and the more they will know about the world and their place in it.

The Reading Promise
When Alice Ozma was nine years old, her father made a promise: to read to her every night, without missing a night, for one-hundred nights. But once the pair met their goal, they couldn't stop. 100 became 1,000, and eventually, they decided to read as long as they possibly could. The Reading Streak, as they called it, ultimately lasted 3,218, finally ending on Alice's first day of college.

Study says reading aloud to children, more than talking, builds literacy
Reading aloud is the best way to help children develop word mastery and grammatical understanding, which form the basis for learning how to read, said Massaro, who studies language acquisition and literacy. He found that picture books are two to three times as likely as parent-child conversations to include a word that isn’t among the 5,000 most common English words.

Trelease on Reading
“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”1 “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”2 The commission found conclusive evidence to support reading aloud not only in the home but also in the classroom.

In their wording—“ the single most important activity”—the experts were saying reading aloud was more important than work sheets, homework, book reports, and flash cards. One of the cheapest, simplest, and oldest tools of teaching was being promoted as a better tool than anything else in the home or classroom— and it’s so simple you don’t even need a high school diploma in order to do it.

SSR – Sustained Silent Reading, Reading Aloud's Silent Partner

SSR—sustained silent reading, reading aloud's silent partner
Among the many purposes of reading aloud, a primary one is to motivate the child to read independently for pleasure. In academic terms, such reading is called SSR— sustained silent reading. Take a book, a newspaper, a magazine, and enjoy it! No interruptions for questions, assessments, or reports; just read for pleasure.

Independent Reading: A Research Based Defense
Independent Reading, sometimes called SSR, DEAR or SQUIRT, is an instructional strategy where students are given time in class to read self-selected books. An instructional strategy which has been around since the 1970s, it has two goals:
  1. Provide students with time to practice the reading strategies they have learned through classroom instruction in a real reading situation and, therefore, improve reading achievement.
  2. Promote positive attitudes towards reading in the hopes of making reading a life-long habit for children.

Sustained Silent Reading: Let's Revisit the Research
There is massive, well-documented evidence that sustained silent reading (SSR) works very well for both first and second language acquirers with little or no accountability as long as certain common-sense conditions are met, e.g. a long enough duration (short-term SSR programs are not as effective as long-term programs), access to interesting reading material, a comfortable physical environment, and no anxiety over evaluation.

Free Voluntary reading: New Research, Applications, and Controversies
Evidence for the value of free voluntary reading, or recreational reading, continues to accumulate. In the last few decades, evidence from several areas continues to show that those who do more recreational reading show better development in reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary, These results hold for first and second language acquisition, and for children and adults.

Building Student Literacy Through Sustained Silent Reading
When I read and hear about ways teachers have adapted SSR to fit their needs, I'm amazed at what a democratic process it is. Used successfully throughout the United States and in many other countries, with students of every age group and every reading ability, it's not a one-size-fits-all garment, but with a little stretching here and a little tucking there, it can be made to fit any situation.
What provides this utility? The major premise behind any sustained silent reading program—that reading should be enjoyable. Students still need assigned readings from the core curriculum. They need discussions and quizzes, but not on everything they read. SSR offers students a chance to make choices and to take control of part of their education, a very powerful concept for them. Teachers work with students in a different way, as a mentor would: assisting in book selections, helping students past difficult parts in their books, acting as a sounding board for student reactions to their reading.

The Benefits of Sustained Silent Reading: Scientific Research and Common Sense Converge
Once teachers unravel the facts from the misinterpretations and opinions, they will find that Sustained Silent Reading is not only intuitively appealing but also is supported by research.

Revisiting Silent Reading: New Directions for Teachers and Researchers by Elfrieda H. Hiebert and D. Ray Reutzel, Chapter 7
In almost all instances, students who read had higher scores than their nonreading counterparts. The pre-posttest study and the correlational analysis reported a statistically significant relationship between SSR and reading achievement.

Reading Comprehension: Strategies That Work, Chapter 4
Independent reading (USSR, SSR, or DEAR) in which children read “just right” texts, is crucial. Yet text selection is only one element of an effective literacy program. Strategy instruction is also critical.

Researchers claim to have found evidence that sustained silent reading along with similar variations can indeed have positive effects on intermediate and middle school students’ reading attitudes and achievement. Student choice is a driving force behind student motivation and positive reading attitudes, a specific component of sustained silent reading (Yoon, 2002). Students rank SSR as an enjoyable activity (Garan & DeVoogd, 2006; Ivey and Broaddus, 2001; Kyung & Dong; Trudel, 2007; Yoon, 2002) and view the practice as a way to increase comprehension (Kyung & Dong, 2008). Increases in reading attitude scores, on-task reading behavior, and reading and language test scores have also been supported by various forms of silent reading (Anderson, 1988; Kelley & Clausen-Grace, 2006; Krashen, 2009; Kyung & Dong, 2008; Reutzel et al., 2008; Trudel, 2007).