Why we read TO a child, not the other way around

By: Amy Blakemore, Volunteer Outreach Coordinator, & Kaela Vronsky, Vice President of Program Management

One of the most common questions we receive from volunteers is “Why can’t our students read to us?” Like our volunteers, we are thrilled when students ask to read to their mentor, so why do we insist that our mentors continue reading to their student, and not the other way around? We recognize the great merit in encouraging students to read independently, but we know that the limited time our mentors have with students is best used reading aloud to them.  Here are the top three reasons why:

1) When mentors select books that are just above a child’s reading level, they are exposed to new, more complex vocabulary, text structures, and informational content.
2) When mentors read, they can manage the pace (thus often fitting in more content), guide more stimulating discussions, and interact with the text.
3) Reading aloud to children allows them to enjoy the book without having to work for it, instilling a love of stories and inspiring them to read on their own.

In order to foster the best lunchtime reading experience possible, keep this simple check in mind: if the book you are reading to your student is easy enough for them to read to you, then you know it’s time to pick a more advanced book. Use your School Coordinator as a literary resource in finding new book selections as you and your student explore new worlds in text!

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