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The significance of reading aloud to children

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 4603 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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According to the National Institute of Education, “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children” When the teacher reads aloud, children have the opportunity to hear the rhythm, flow, and variety of book language; giving the children an increased vocabulary, complex language, improvement and comprehension skills.

Literature offers many opportunities for creative dramatics, both interpreting and improvising. Children interpret a story when they dramatize it following the plot closely; they are improvising when they create their own plot. A teacher can also have the children provide all the dialogue and add words or phrases that would help move the story along. (Giorgis, & Glazer, 2009). Encouraging the children to respond to books orally can also strengthen through role-playing and improvising too. For a more formal storytelling event, one might even dress in costume or have story props or puppets. Role play helps in providing a stimulus for drama that does not follow the content of the story and involves the being able to understand the viewpoint of another. Depending on the age of the children, using masks and puppets can also be incorporated into story- telling; the important thing is to make sure that children can manipulate the puppets easily in order to allow them concentrate on the action and dialogue.

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In storytelling, eye contact and shared reference are critical to establishing and keeping the attention of the students. This allows the teacher to closely monitor children’s comprehension of the story and attentiveness. If children become restless and distracted, he or she can adjust either by increasing the dramatic features of the story (intonation, gesture) to attract their attention or by shortening the story. One way of adding visual interest to oral storytelling is to use hand or finger puppets, felt-board characters, props, or musical instruments.

Before the story-telling begins, it is helpful to start the discussion by focusing on the original objective. The educator needs to prepare for listening or reading with discussion and questions, provides background information and ask children to predict what might happen. Educators must set a goal for listening or reading, such as “try to remember which part of the story you like best” and read the story with expression and show the illustrations, pause at the natural breaks for children’s reaction, comments, or questions. Encourage children to chant a long or read some of the words. If children are reading, have them read the story all the way through.

Reading to children helps them understand how print functions and how it is used. They learn how to handle books; recognize that stories have beginning, middle and end. (Golbeck, 2001). As educators, we can bring students stories that they cannot handle on their own, that they might not choose, that at first seem outside their range of experiences of print. Children can step outside their own culture, their past lives, and their experiences, into other worlds…strange, different, unsettling or fantastic…meet characters that they did not know existed. They can be transported into story worlds with no fear of word recognition. In reading aloud, the deepest issues can be explored, clarified and wondered about. We all become part of the story experience.

Erikson divided the human life span into eight periods; at each stage of life, he said, people have specific tasks to master, and each stage generates it own social and emotional conflicts. Thus, the goal of early childhood educator becomes to tip the scale in favor of positive characteristics over the negative ones.

Research shows that developing children’s personality improves academic performance and prevents problem behavior. One of the ways that educators can implement is story-telling; Reading to children can prove to be the perfect medium to pass on the lessons of life and make a child more proficient socially and emotionally. It is one of the most easiest and convenient ways to instill values and virtues within a child. Instilling these values helps children communicate well, work well with classmates and manage emotions.

Over the preschool and early grade-school years, children show rapid advances in their ability to identify the emotions that other people are likely to feel in particular situations. Children in grades one to three like to talk about their emotions and the emotions of characters in literature. They are able to make emotional inferences about characters’ emotional states and discuss how they are or are not appropriate to the story. They can then relate these emotional states to their own lives and to events at home and in the classroom.

A common method for assessing children’s understanding of the causes of emotion is to expose them to short stories that are accompanied by pictures or drawings, and to ask them to describe or pick out a face showing how the story character feels How Are You Peeling? Foods with Moods by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers offers brief text and photographs of carvings made from vegetables that introduce the world of emotions by presenting leading questions such as “Are you feeling angry?” Children with good social and emotional skills have a strong attachment to school. They demonstrate a sense of belonging, perceive teachers as supportive and caring, make good friends and feel engaged in their academic progress. (Morrison, 2009)

A New Home a new Friend by Hans Wilhelm is another book that helps children cope with such difficulties. This book shows children and even animals able to cope with problems. Moving to a new town can be hard; it hurts to say good-bye friends. Leaving something familiar and nice and not knowing what the new place will be like can be a little bit scary. Literature has the potential to support children’s personality development by enhancing self-esteem, providing a sense of security, feelings, and emotions. It can also support children’s social and moral development by facilitating an understanding of others; it is through literature that an awareness of social values can grow. (Saxby & Winch, 1987)

Through literature, children can understand that they are not alone in encountering problems. Literature also has the potential to help children see themselves capable and have the resources that will help them overcome difficulties and unexpected events (Giorgis, C. & Glazer, J. 2009, p. 182).

Everything teachers plan and do should focus on the individual child. They tailor, adjust, and adapt the curriculum to fit each child in the program, rather than expecting children to fit the program (Elkind, 1987). It is imperative in a developmentally appropriate perspective that the curriculum and teaching methods be age appropriate, individually appropriate, and culturally appropriate (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). This means considering and understanding similarities within an age group, and also recognizing each child’s individual differences. In a developmentally appropriate classroom, children are allowed to progress at their own rate, and both the curriculum and teaching strategies are relevant for all the children in the classroom. Thus, a great deal of flexibility is required, but this does not mean a total lack of structure and academics; rather, it means that the structure and academics of the program are based on individual and group needs and current understanding of child development (Raines, 1997).

(Eliason. A Practical Guide to Early Childhood Curriculum, 8th Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions 6).

Literature is experienced more than taught and if children are to become deeply involved with it, they must choose to do so. (Giorgis and Glazer, 2009) A child’s attitude toward reading may have a profound impact upon his or her overall academic progress. Children with positive reading attitudes tend to be willing to read, enjoy reading, become proficient, and become lifelong readers. On the other hand, children with poor attitudes toward reading may only read when they have to read, tend to avoid reading, and may even refuse to read altogether.

Teachers can promote positive reading attitudes by providing a variety of high interest reading materials that matches students’ interests which can be determined through interviews or a survey. As educators we also need to help students realize how much we value literature and spend time helping students acquire basic reading skills in order to their confidence, competence, and positive perceptions about themselves.


As parents we must also provide a variety of reading materials and let our children know how much we enjoy and learn from reading. We need to read with and to our children, talk about reading materials and visit the library; have our children select their own reading materials based on their individual interests. And finally acknowledge our children when they read or shares information obtained from reading. Our recognition and positive reaction will have a significant impact upon our children’s desire to read literature.

Children’s literature is literature especially written with children in mind and comes in different sizes, shapes, arrangement of illustrations, and spacing. There are basically two categories of picture books; those with and those without words. Children’s wordless literature books (picture books) provide a visual experience and tell a story with pictures. Although, there is not any text, the content of the book, can still be fully explained or illustrated with pictures. Wordless books are very appealing for today’s children, whose experiences with television and film orient them to visual communication. Teachers find wordless picture books to be invaluable for developing vocabulary, comprehension, and critical reading (Cianciolo, 1990). On the other hand, picture story books are books that contain pictures or illustrations that complement the story, often mirroring the plot.  Both the text and the illustrations are important to the development of the story.  The pictures are the “eye-candy” that gets people’s attention, but the text is also needed to complete the story.  In well-written picture books, both text and illustrations work together in a seamless fashion.

Educators can integrate early literacy learning into the classroom is through picture book reading. Reading a themed picture book for example, provides children a crucial understanding of the spoken word, the printed word, and basic linguistic conventions. Another book that can beneficial to children and can be read at home by their parents is One Bear at Bedtime. the book introduces the numbers one through ten as a little boy describes all the animals he needs to help him get ready for bed. School children should be involved in literature activities on daily bases and activities need to modeled to encourage children’s interests. Children who do not experience one-to-one reading at home are at a disadvantage in their literacy development.

The ability of children to relate to other people is correlated with their ability to see events from the view point of another. ( Giorgis, C. & Glazer, J. 2009, p. 205) There is nothing better to help children recognize that others have feelings that matter and may differ than own than role play; role play is essential for the normal development of a wide range of social, cognitive, and language skills. It provides opportunities for children to explore and practice using language in a variety of situations and engage in problem solving. During the early childhood years, children naturally engage in much dramatic play, acting out various play themes and character portrayals.

Deep in the jungle by Dan Yaccarino is a story of the king of the jungle. A lion, who was very rude to all animals and kept telling the other creatures in the jungle that if they did not obey him, he would have to eat them up. But what the lion did not realize was that the other animals could not stand him because he was so bossy. This is a great story that teaches children to treat others the way they would like to be treated or risk losing their friends. The second book is “When I Was Little” is a book written by Jamie Curtis talks about a little girl is reminiscing of her youth. She tells how she “cried a lot” when she was little, but now she uses words. When she was little her mom said she was a handful, now she’s helpful. The young girl compares and contrasts her life now to when she was “little”. She uses her baby sister as an example. This story book will spark children’s curiosity about when they were little. The third book is “Ten Little Dinosaurs” By Pattie Schnetzler. This book has great illustrations and sing-song lyrics that will engage children, The book uses of rhyming that encourages participation from the listeners. The portrayal of dinosaurs in risky situations provides a back door lesson in cause and effect. Literature that portrays characters engaged in social behavior show children not only a way of acting but also the ingredients necessary for prosocial behavior to occure. ( Giorgis, C. & Glazer, J. 2009, p. 220)

It is important to select literature that supports children’s learning. As educators we need to expand our reading in children’s literature and then develop criteria for judging the merits for different kinds of books in each genre. In general literacy quality is a primary consideration in evaluating any literature. However, book selection based on literacy should never prelude consideration of whether children will have an interest in the book. Children must want to read, view, or listen to the work, and evaluating this factor should be as important as evaluating the literacy quality of the work. Educators should put in their hands only the books of honesty, integrity, and vision…the books on which children can grow.With a successful literature program, children will be able to create meaning from the books educators share with them. When children are touched by the literature they read, it will have a positive impact through the topic, the language, the emotion, and the intellectual stimulation they provide. ( Giorgis, C. & Glazer, J. 2009, p. 279)

The family is the young child’s earliest educator, and parents have a lasting influence on their child’s attitudes, values, learning, concepts, emotions, and ideas. Therefore, parents have a responsibility to provide a literacy-rich environment at home to support children in acquiring literacy skills. Research studies have found a strong relation between the language and literacy activities engaged in at home and children’s subsequent literacy behaviors. There is also evidence that parents should begin reading to their children in early infancy; the earlier a parent began reading to their child, the higher the child’s emergent reading level was at the end of kindergarten.

When children and parents enjoy storybooks together, their joint focusing on the book develops an awareness that books have meaning that is communicated through language and the process of reading. Book sharing with children provides rich opportunities for both receptive and expressive language development that contributes not only to oral language development but to literacy as well. (Otto, 2009)

As parents we must provide a variety of reading materials and let our children know how much we enjoy and learn from reading. We need to read with and to our children, talk about reading materials and visit the library; have our children select their own reading materials based on their individual interests. And finally acknowledge our children when they read or shares information obtained from reading. Our recognition and positive reaction will have a significant impact upon our children’s desire to read literature. (Laurice, 1998)

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Otto, B. (2009). Language development in early childhood. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc.

Laurice, J. (1998). Reading – encouraging positive attitudes: strategies for parents and teachers. Retrieved from  http://www.lebanonct.org/district/lms/support_services/nasp/reading.html

The diverse composition of early childhood classrooms presents different challenges to teachers. These challenges will involve collaboration, hard work, and constant dedication to achieving high-quality education for all children. During the preschool and kindergarten period, children have a conflict between initiative, wanting to carry out activities on their own, and guilt over what they would like to do. For preschool teachers, this is a time when children can be encouraged. ( Giorgis, C. & Glazer, J. 2009, p. 173)

Teachers should use a wide range of teaching methods in order to keep children excited about, and interested in reading. Choosing which books to use can be an overwhelming task. The options are bountiful and include fiction and non-fiction, contemporary writings and classic, therefore, it is best to expose students to a wide variety of literature. (Brynildssen, 2002) Another challenge to early childhood educators would be the goals for specific children that need to be developed. As a teacher, I must recognize the individuality of each child and integrate children with handicaps and special needs the rest of the class.

Brynildssen, S. (2002, March). Character education through children’s literature. eric digest.Retrieved from http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-3/character.htm

Strategies. Selecting the appropriate books for the children in your classroom is

a key step in planning successful book sharing at group time. At the kindergarten

level, stories are longer and more complex than the stories read in preschool class-

rooms. Books to include at group story time include fiction and nonfiction and should

also involve a variety of genres, such as realistic fiction, fantasy (but not scary stories),

poetry, fairy tales, and alphabet books. The selection of books to share should repre-

sent curricular connections in terms of conceptual knowledge as well as socialization.

A curricular theme of “farm life” would include stories and nonfiction about life

activities in a rural setting. A curricular theme of “friendships” would include stories

that focus on making friendships and learning how to get along with others.

Wordless picture books are also valuable to share with kindergarten children at

storybook time. Because wordless books contain no text, the focus of the sharing is on

talking about the characters and events illustrated and the sequence of events. When

sharing this type of book, it is critical for teachers to focus on the underlying story

structure to help children make connections between the events and characters from

page to page (Hough, Nurss, & Wood, 1987). Begin by taking the children on a picture

walk through the book. Then go back through the book page by page, encouraging

children to create an oral story to accompany the illustrations. This engages children

in “active story construction” (Crawford & Hade, 2000, p. 8).

It is also beneficial to include books that involve humorous language play along

with clear, relevant illustrations. This type of book further enhances and refines

children’s metalinguistic abilities (Zeece, 1995) because in comprehending a

humorous situation, children become aware of the features of language, including

multiple meanings, alliteration, rhythm, rhyme, and figurative language. Read-

aloud books can also be selected to focus on sound similarities between words and

phonemic awareness through texts characterized by rhyme and rhyming patterns,

simple alliteration, and tongue twisters (Yopp, 1995). For example, consider the

following books, which focus on specific sound patterns: Tog the Dog(Hawkins &

Hawkins, 1986); Roar and More(Kuskin, 1990); Buzz Said the Bee(Lewison, 1992);

Moose on the Loose(Ochs, 1991), Moses Supposes his Toeses are Roses(Patz, 1983)

andFaint Frogs Feeling Feverish and Other Terrifically Tantalizing Tongue Twisters

(Obligado, 1983). 274❈Chapter 9

Because children’s listening comprehension forms the basis for their later read-

ing comprehension, storybook time is critical. Repeated readings of familiar and

favorite books encourage children to develop a memory for story events and pre-

dictable language. This provides a basis for participating in the story reading

through unison responses as well as participating in the discussion of the story. One

way to encourage children’s story involvement is to use “participation stories”

(Neuman & Roskos, 1993). In this activity, children participate by repeating a refrain

of the text, providing sounds of animals or events, or joining in a choral response.

Children who have not had many storybook experiences prior to kindergarten

will especially benefit from opportunities for storybook reading individually with

the teacher or with only a few children. In this smaller setting, there are more oppor-

tunities for asking questions and becoming involved in responding to the story and


Kindergarten children may not rely on illustrations to understand the story as

much as preschool children do because their vocabulary is more developed. This

listening comprehension allows them to comprehend parts of a story without seeing

the illustrations constantly. However, storybooks shared with kindergarten children

still should have high-quality illustrations that support the story and theme. When

kindergarten children attempt to re-create the story independently, they may use the

illustrations as a way of recalling specific language of the text.

Children’s comprehension of a storybook can be enhanced by the use of finger

puppets or flannel board characters. Puppets or flannel board characters can be used

as the storybook is initially read, or they can be used when reconstructing the story

orally, without using the book. Children can participate by using the puppets to re-

create characters’ roles in speech and action.

Effective storybook reading techniques involve three parts: prereading, reading,

and postreading (Mason, Peterman, & Kerr, 1989). Prior to reading a book, the teacher

should introduce the book to the children by talking about the title of the book and

encouraging children to predict what the book is about. The teacher should also

encourage children to listen with a purpose. While reading the story, the teacher

should pause occasionally to ask comprehension questions or to involve children in

predicting upcoming events or commenting on what has happened in the story. After

the story reading is finished, the story events can be reviewed, and children can be

encouraged to make connections between the story events and their own lives.

Story retelling. Kindergarten story times can be extended by encouraging chil-

dren to retell the story from looking at the pictures in the book and taking turns re-

creating the story. Repeated readings of a story help children develop a memory for

story events and dialogue that contributes to the accuracy of story retelling. As a

book becomes more familiar, kindergarten children eagerly participate at group time

in reconstructing the story line or sequence of events. Story retelling is an important

activity because it encourages children to develop an awareness of a story event

sequence and enhances their comprehension of the story. Gradually children will be

able to retell the story on their own. Copies of favorite storybooks can be placed in

the book center along with a tape recorder and blank tapes as a way of encouraging Enhancing the Language Development of Kindergartners ❈275

children to retell stories independently or in pairs during center time. Taped retold

stories can then be shared at group time (Beatty & Pratt, 2003).

Story reenactment. Children’s language competencies are enhanced by oppor-

tunities to reenact a familiar story through dramatization. This may take several

forms. The teacher may begin by reading the story and having children act out dif-

ferent events nonverbally. Gradually, children’s verbal participation can be

increased to include unison responses, dialogue segments, or whole conversational

interactions. The type of verbal participation that is encouraged is determined by

the teacher’s awareness of children’s knowledge of the story and their language

interaction competencies. Story reenactment can also be used with children’s dic-

tated stories (Groth & Darling, 2001; Paley, 1981, 1990, 1997).

Story-based writing and drawing. A good way of encouraging children’s

responses to shared books is to provide opportunity for them to draw or write as a

follow-up activity to a read-aloud. For example, Ms. Lyons shared the book Big

Shark’s Lost Tooth(Metzger, 2006) with her kindergartners. The book is about a lit-

tle shark, Chomper, who lost a tooth and wanted to put it under his pillow so the

tooth fairy would come. Because Chomper lived at the bottom of the ocean with his

mother, he was not sure the tooth fairy could find him. When Ms. Lyons came to the

page where Chomper’s mom was secretly writing a letter to the tooth fairy, she

stopped reading and asked the children to work with a classmate in drawing or writ-

ing their own message to the tooth fairy that would help the tooth fairy find

Chomper’s home in the ocean. While many of the children drew pictures for the

tooth fairy, two groups wrote printed messages along with their pictures. These are

presented in Figures 9.2and 9.3. As you look at these figures, note the phonemic

spellings as well as the complex syntax of the sentences. Activities such as this pro-

vide opportunity for children to share their understanding of a story through draw-

ing, reading, and writing. As a follow-up to their messages to the tooth fairy, Ms.

Lyons finished reading the story to her kindergartners. (yes, the tooth fairy did find

Chomper’s home!).

(Beverly Otto. Language Development in Early Childhood, 3rd Edition. Merrill/CourseSmart, 01/23/2009. 273 – 275).


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