On the Magic of Reading Aloud

When I was little, both my parents read to me. They even read in a couple of different languages that they were fluent in. I had a couple of children’s books in French, which my mom read to me. My dad read us a couple of children’s books in German and in Russian. When I was in early elementary school, I liked when the teachers read stories because they would show the pictures, they would alter their voices slightly to indicate different characters and moods. Even when my fourth grade teacher read A Wrinkle in Time, with hardly any pictures, she still made it interesting. When I hit sixth grade and my teacher read aloud, I came to hate it. There were no pictures anymore. She read straight off the page – no inflections, no animated intonation, just boring. And I could read for myself much faster than I could listen to her read. Blah.

Skip ahead to me working in various child care settings. I *love* to read stories with little kids. I worked in a variety of child care settings for the better part of 15 years. I now work in a county-based special education preschool program as a speech-language pathologist. I do a ton of stuff with children’s books. The fact that I can write a lot of these books off for work on my taxes helps out enormously, as good-quality picture books are pretty much my crack habit.

Even better, my partner is happy to read these picture books to me sometimes at bedtime. He does voices and everything!  Once in a while, when we’re feeling up to the commitment, we’ll find a grown-up book for him to read over several nights. We rarely do this on consecutive nights due to our schedules, so it can take us a long time to finish a book. But even when it’s a grown-up book, he’ll do inflection and intonation to make it interesting. And we’ve found we’ll talk about the book the next day or two as well, so it makes for some good conversation. It’s one of my favorite forms of “together time” with him.

As we head into the holiday week, here’s a suggestion for when your flight is delayed, or you just can’t possibly watch any more football. Get a book and read out loud.

But don’t just gather the kids and the grandkids.

Tonight, beloved children’s book author Kate DiCamillo shares her humble opinion on the universal and age-defying magic of listening to a shared story.

Check out the video

(you can also read the transcript here)

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