Want to Raise Smart, Successful Kids? This is How You Should Read to Them

by Placerville Newswire / Sep 24, 2016 / comments

The kind of books you should read to your kids to cultivate a love of reading.

BY BETSY MIKEL -- It's no surprise that having plenty of books around the house is good for young developing minds. Plenty of research has been done on the subject, even down to the exact number of books you should own to lock in your child's future earning potential.

And that's how you find yourself re-reading Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovelbefore bed, yet again. Because reading them any book is a good book, right? Maybe. To challenge young minds and keep your kids in a state of constant learning, literacy expert and author of Reading Reconsidered Doug Lemov suggests a different approach. (Hat tip to Quartz for spotting this.)

Lemov recommends moving beyond reciting and regurgitating your kids' favorite books. Instead, he says you should pick up a more challenging book -- one they couldn't even read one their own -- and read it to them. Even if they don't fully comprehend every word, the benefits are many and will challenge their brains in new ways. Here are a few reasons why Lemov recommends grabbing a book a few grades higher and reading it to your kids.

Learning new words

This is the perfect method to introduce your kids to new words that don't come up in everyday conversation or in the age-appropriate books. You'll have the opportunity to explain the meaning of the new vocabulary as they come up.

Early comprehension of different sentence structures

By taking things up a notch with a more complicated text, kids will begin to hear more complicated phrases. For young readers, it can be difficult to decipher anything beyond simple simple subject-verb constructed sentences. This helps expand their understanding to other types of sentences.

"Hearing complex syntax read aloud builds an affinity for a different kind of vocabulary. Call it the vocabulary of syntax," Lemov says. "As with distinctive words, so too will they be more ready to decipher complex and unusual sentence structures when, months or years later, they begin to read them on their own."

Exposure to more complicated characters and plots

Children's books keep it simple, with just a handful of characters and a straightforward theme, plot, and message. Pick up a more complicated book, and you'll begin to dive into more complex characters, more of them, and more grown-up themes. Lemov says this one is key to help cultivate a love for books, because it will help your children truly discover the power of books.

"So read the best books with your kids," he says. "Read them aloud, bring them to life. Because challenge is far more engaging in the long run than pandering. There are myriad sources of blithe and anodyne amusement. Only reading offers to-your-soul depth."