Guest Post: Read to Your Child by Renee McCuen

Renee McCuen

Renee McCuen was an elementary school teacher for 34 years. She is the author of Amazing Ants and Slimy Salamanders. Renee lives in Worthington, Minnesota, with her husband, Bob. Visit Renee’s website at

I love reading. I always have.

When I started teaching first graders, my biggest thrill was helping them learn to read. When students understood the process and started to read, it was like magic. I couldn’t imagine anything better.

When I had conferences with parents, we would discuss many things. When I asked if they were reading to their child at home, many of them would say, “I don’t have to read to my child; they’re reading everything by themselves.” That would make me groan (inside my head, of course), and then I would explain why they should continue reading aloud with their child.

What my students’ parents didn’t realize is this: When you read aloud to your child, they learn rich vocabulary and new and interesting ideas that you can discuss as a family. I could usually tell which children had been read to. They tended to catch on to reading much more quickly. When they encountered unfamiliar words and worked through them, they would smile. “That was easy,” they would tell me. They had a confidence to try. Children who’d never been read to had a much more limited vocabulary. It’s tricky to figure out words and understand what you’re reading when you haven’t been exposed to them before.

Of course, you want your child to read independently. Encourage them to read books at their independent level. They will be able to read most of the words and understand the ideas in the book. When you read aloud, choose books to read that are beyond what they can read independently. Choose books they have an interest in. Choose books that teach a lesson or are just fun. If you’re busy, just read a chapter—or even a few pages. When you’re not busy, enjoy your book a bit longer.

Children who read well generally do well in school. When you read well, you can figure out other content areas. Reading with and to your child will help them to become a successful student.

Enjoy reading!