The Lost Art of Reading Aloud

September 4, 2013

What do children enjoy more than stories read to them at bedtime. That wonderful time when little minds take flight with the stimulus of colourful pictures and expressive reading. And the delight does not stop with the child, but transfers to the reader as well. Magical, happy times.

So why do we stop reading aloud to them? is it because our children learn to read themselves? Is it as a result of busy lives and no time?

And why do we not realize that reading aloud is really enjoyable pastime for people of all ages? Think of the pleasure people get from book or poetry readings by authors. Think back to high school when your English teacher used to read chapters of novels aloud to start a new unit.

And when did we forget how much our seniors love to be read to. What a wonderful way to build bonds between grandchildren and their grandparents. It addresses the listening skills of your senior while giving your children a chance to practice their oral reading in a no- stress situation.

Another opportunity this provides is the chance to teach your children social responsibility. Neighbours, and local retirement/nursing homes are always looking for young people to visit the seniors and to read to them.

Possibly the most poignant example I have experienced of the comfort and pleasure reading aloud can provide for the elderly, happened in a friend's family a few years back. Her mother was in palliative care but still able to hear and respond. Her oldest friend from her childhood came to spend her last few days with her.

When she arrived she was carrying a tote bag full of books. She had saved their high school English readers, and spent hours a day reading the 'oh so familiar' poetry and prose. The patient's pleasure and contentment was palpable. There was a sense of calm in the room from the familiar voice of her friend reading the literature of her youth.

So often we try to make things more complicated than they need to be. What do we do for Mother's loneliness and depression? Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest. Oral reading is of one of those splendid solutions that can give 1000% return on your effort.

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