When I was an elementary teacher I read out loud to my students every day. Without fail their response to this decidedly low tech experience was one of complete rapture. They were always sad when reading time was over. So was I.
Sometimes I would tease my class and close the book we were reading early. A communal groan of complaint would rise up.
Then I would open the book and they would cheer.
Sometimes I would push it farther and open and close the book in rapid succession, and my class would oblige with a chorus of "Awwww, yaaaa, awwww, yaaaa..." We would all laugh and I would carry on reading and enjoying our shared, convivial activity .
But reading out loud is not just for kids. Books can be shared among grown ups as well with equally excellent results.
When Linda and I passed through Nelson, BC on our way to Nova Scotia last summer, my sister gifted us a set of fantasy novels. I started reading them out loud every night while we were on the road. Such a wonderful no-tech, totally portable, off grid activity.
Reading out loud approximates the way all stories were told until fairly recently - out loud. It is a link to oral story telling in that we are listening to a human voice with all the benefits of such a sound.
Was Reynolds Price exaggerating the importance of oral story telling when he said, "A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens – second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter"? I think not.
Read to someone today.