As a children's librarian, I have interactions with children who cannot read, those who struggle to read, and those who voraciously read. Yet whatever a child--nay, a person's--age or reading ability, I've found that people consider it a treat when someone reads aloud to them.
What's so special about reading aloud?
Reading aloud allows us to rejoice in the rhythm and melodious sounds of words. There is such beauty in language, and I love to share that with others. I'll often read a sentence or passage aloud to my coworkers or the children in the library simply because of how beautiful it sounds.
Reading aloud gives listeners shared experience. I love to share funny books aloud because group laughter is infectious and momentous. I regularly have classrooms of preschoolers talk to me excitedly about a book we shared months before, simply because the experience of sharing that book was a touchstone for them. I also often take my favorite picture books home for visits to read aloud for friends and family after dinner simply because shared stories are wonderful. Reading aloud together creates strong bonds.
Reading aloud is comforting. One of my favorite summer programs is a Book Bunch Picnic Lunch series, where families bring sack lunches to the library and eat an indoor picnic while I read aloud. I love to see just how much older school-age children in particular enjoy listening to stories despite the fact they can read them on their own. Being read to feels safe and relaxing and luxurious.
Reading aloud gives us mantras and meanings that enrich our lives. "I think I can, I think I can!" "Let the wild rumpus start!" We internalize the lines and stories that we hear and love; they stick with us. My mother and I can still recite the first several pages of Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book--that's how much we read it together and loved it. And while it may seem amusing that I know an intro to a Dr. Seuss book by heart as a 26-year-old, I would firmly argue my life is better for having bits of books inside my brain.
What do you think is special about reading aloud?
This post is part of the World Read Aloud Day Blogging Challenge, which features weekly blog prompts leading up to World Read Aloud Day on March 6. Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more WRAD Blog Challenge posts, culminating in details on the implementation of my library's WRAD program!