When Do I Stop Reading to My Child?

There’s no doubt that your child benefits from reading with you.  Her vocabulary improves.  Her speech improves as she takes in tone, cadence and pronounciation.  She’s better able to focus and follow extended thought processes.  Her memory improves, especially if you periodically ask questions about what was just read.

She looks forward to spending time with you in a shared activity that strengthens the father-child bond.

And someday, it ends.  But when?

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a final answer on the age at which to stop reading together.  But my sense is that the transition to fully self-reading from read-to occurs in the second or third grade.  At this point, most of the books are chapter books and have the story and plot line that lead onwards to adult reading.  And some kids use this as an independence step, demonstrating that it’s something that they can do just like the parents.  But others will want to continue reading a common book together even as they read their own books and that’s something that should be encouraged, even if it does happen because the school requires a certain amount of free reading each night.

I continued reading with Middle through the fourth grade and we polished off books like The Hobbit and Treasure Island.  When he was in third grade and Eldest was in sixth, we spent the Thanksgiving/Christmas evenings walking through Dickens’ Christmas Carol.  He’s now moved onwards to F. Paul Wilson and Ian Fleming while Eldest is cruising through Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Where I believe that I’ve slipped is with Youngest, who’s caught amid the hustle of a busy household and elder siblings.  He happily reads to himself and is working through a Whitman’s child edition of The Invisible Man, but our reading together has lapsed because of the demands of the household.

And that’s something that I believe has to change.  He’s the youngest and the days that he’ll be willing to do that instead of Nintendo and Baseball are numbered.


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