Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Read to your kids! It's fun, cozy and crucial to their development

More research tells us what we already knew: You should read with your kids every day — and not just when they're little.


Good news! The percentage of parents who read aloud to their child during the first three months of life is up nearly 50 percent since 2014, according to the the latest Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report. Reading aloud is not only a fun, cozy time to connect with your kid, it also supports the brain development and social-emotional skills they will need to navigate the world for the rest of their life.


Although a majority of families (55 percent) continue to read aloud five to seven days a week after infancy, by the child’s sixth birthday the silly voices and storytime snuggles dramatically decline.


“Parents make a logical assumption that once kids can read on their own, that’s what they should be doing all of the time, but in fact, reading aloud with your kids continues to be beneficial all the way through young adulthood,” says Pam Allyn, senior vice president of innovation and development at Scholastic Education.  


For family read-aloud time with kids ages 6 to 11, Allyn recommends combining books that take on challenging subjects with books that are just for fun and comfort.  


“Series books like ‘Big Nate,’ ‘Frog and Toad’ and ‘Captain Underpants’ are great for when they’re shifting from listening to picture books to wanting to feel a little cool and grown-up,” says Allyn.


If you’re in the mood for a conversation starter, books by authors Sharon Creech, Jacqueline Woodson, Grace Lin, Carmen Agra Deedy and Peter Reynolds tackle deep topics in a developmentally appropriate style.  


Succeeding begins with reading, yet many children in Seattle and around the world don’t have access to books or caregivers who are available to read to them. A child who is able to read at grade level by third grade will likely continue to read at grade level throughout her academic career. Unfortunately, children who don’t have early exposure to reading often suffer from low self-esteem, struggle academically, and are at higher risk for substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and delinquency.


“The inequity is unacceptable. Every day that goes by without addressing this there’s a third-grader who isn’t reading,” says Allyn. “They don’t have the complete and empowered reading life that they should, and there is no reason for that.”

As founder of the nonprofit organization LitWorld, Allyn created World Read Aloud Day, a holiday that “calls global attention to the importance of reading aloud, sharing stories, and the idea of literacy as a human right by bringing communities together across the world to read aloud and change the world.”


One of the best parts of rallying your community behind a cause like literacy is that you can make a big impact in a short amount of time. “If you read to a kid for 20 minutes a day you’re going to change their life,” says Allyn.

Here are some ways you can promote children’s literacy around Seattle:


Donate books to classrooms


“Help me give my students the guided reading books they need to close the achievement gap,” Ms. Kribbs, Hawthorne Elementary School. Donate here.


“Help me give my students Read Naturally Live, a research-based reading intervention program,” Ms. Winkley, Broadview Thomson K-8 School. Donate here.


“Help me give my students a variety of diverse texts that represent the cultures seen in our school. These books will expose students to texts from different cultures as we explore folktales and fairy tales through shared reading,” Ms. Tabor, Concord International Elementary School. Donate here.


“Help me give my students the early literacy intervention resources they need to help build phonics and sight word skills with the tactile alphabet cards, literacy mats, Tower of Sight word games, and phonics centers,” Mrs. Duron, White Center Heights Elementary School. Donate here.


Volunteer to read aloud


Page Ahead Children’s Literacy Program is looking for enthusiastic volunteers to read to preschool and kindergarten classes. Story Time Volunteers read books and create simple crafts with kids.


Seattle Public Schools is seeking volunteer reading tutors to work with students on important concepts in both reading literature and nonfiction texts, including decoding skills, fluency skills, and reading comprehension. The content used within this role is provided by the classroom teacher in collaboration with the English Language Development teacher.

Reading with Rover is seeking volunteers to read with kids and therapy dogs in schools, bookstores and libraries around the Puget Sound area.


Reading Partners is seeking volunteers to follow a proven, structured curriculum to help students learn specific skills necessary to become proficient readers.


Do you have other ideas on how to share the joy of reading with every child in Seattle? Tell us in the comments!