Dr. Seuss’s birthday (March 3) and World Read Aloud Day (the first Wednesday in March) occurred happily close together this year, which is fitting because Dr. Seuss is so much fun to read aloud.
Reading out loud can benefit anyone, of any age. Reading to babies lets them hear the sounds and rhythms of language and engages their attention. (And as Sam Vimes knows all too well, babies adore repetition.) Dr. Seuss knew how important it was to get across the sounds of language, and still told hilarious stories in those few words and rhymes. Older children who are read to develop their attention spans and vocabularies, and may have an easier time reading print on their own.
Even children who are old enough to read independently can still enjoy the experience of being read to. (I still remember when my second grade teacher was reading us The Knights of the Round Table a little every day, and my mother bought me a copy so I wouldn’t miss anything when I had to have surgery. It wasn’t the same as hearing it bit by bit at all.) And when the reader is a good one, for example Jim Dale with Harry Potter, the audio book almost becomes its own thing. But you don’t have to be Jim Dale to enjoy reading to a kid, either.
I like a story where I can really throw my voice around. I do a decent Gruffalo, but I have to watch my brogue or I sound like the Cryptkeeper. And you can really put some dismay in your voice when the Gruffalo comes–oh help, oh no–with his terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.
Or how about the Dust Bunnies? They’re rhyming along, and all of a sudden Bob blurts out something like “HERE COMES A BIG SCARY MONSTER WITH A BROOM!!!” and you get to say, “No, Bob [calmly]. HERE COMES A BIG SCARY MONSTER WITH A BROOM!!! [yelling to match Bob] doesn’t rhyme with <word>.”
And then, of course, you have resources like The Read Aloud Handbook, and even stories to read to your dog or cat. And then, of course, you have your librarians and libraries. What are some of your favorites?
See also: You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild to pick up a book and read to a child.
Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young