Two good posts by Karen Edmisten:
One on how reading aloud helps with the sometimes thorny problem of whether material is age appropriate:
Reading aloud lets me make decisions (I can edit if something is too intense for my hyper-sensitive child), initiate conversations (“Why do you think she did that?”), and be present to answer a string of questions that otherwise might not be asked in the course of reading a book.
So, reading aloud can help with the “Is my child old enough for this book?” dilemma for all of those reasons. Beyond that, trust your instincts. No one knows your children as you do. If they’re not ready for the same book every other ten-year-old in the world has read, that’s okay. And, if they’re reading books that would make the average ten-year-old cringe, that’s okay, too. Instead of looking at what’s age-appropriate, we need (within the boundaries of protecting innocence, of course) to look at “what’s appropriate for this particular child.”
And another on how read alouds can spark wide ranging discussions that cover multiple subjects and demonstrates that real learning doesn’t neatly pigeonhole information into discrete compartments of academic disciplines, but blends together all kinds of knowing into a seamless whole:
I was reading aloud from a library book on genetics that had a picture of a former U.S. president with skin cancer. From there, our conversation wandered down the following paths:
Oh! That’s why we wear sunblock!
How do chemicals cause cancer?
What is cancer?
Was the man in the picture a good president?
What makes a good president?
What’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans?
Would I make a good president?
Which president made the decision about dropping the atomic bomb?
What would you have done, Mommy? Would you have dropped it?
Just talking, while curled up on the couch with an interesting book about genetics, we covered “science-health-history-social studies-ethics-morality-our faith.” And, we discussed that these things are not simply little compartments of our lives, but are things that must fit together as seamless parts of the whole of who we are.