April 1, 2015

Simple Pleasures: Reading Out Loud

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.

Reading out loud is a pleasure that is as simple, basic and essential as it gets.

Read to someone today.


  1. Anonymous4/01/2015

    On a weekly basis I read books aloud to my one and only Li'l soulmate, Tara. We recently finished the original Winnie-the-Pooh & House at Pooh Corner. There are some subtle and not so subtle lessons that everyone could learn from Pooh, Piglet & friends but especially Pooh. You both should reread aloud these too as it may give you some fun ideas like a game of Pooh-sticks, build your own Pooh "Floating Bear" or perhaps get you sing one of Pooh's favorites titled Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie. This song read or sung aloud gets people thinking about simplicity. Pooh's beauty comes from his simplicity on every level. Pooh has been a great teacher for me and Tara by helping us clearly see that life's best is found in "doing nothing". - James & Tara

    1. James and Tara,

      We love Pooh and Friends too, and "doing nothing" is sometimes the sweetest thing. It is highly under-rated in our busy society. Thank you for sharing this bit of wisdom with us.

  2. My youngest daughter and I like to have sleepovers on weekends. We turn off the lights and continue talking. I usually tell her stories from my childhood and we both enjoy that very much. I remember when I was a little girl and spent my summers at my grandma's, I always used to ask her to tell me stories from her life and she always obliged. There is something very special in that. :)

    1. Kamyria,

      Story telling grandparents are the best. I remember my grandma sitting on my bed, tucking me in and then singing softly or sharing a short story.

      Your daughter is lucky to have a mom that shares time and stories rather than DVD players and Disney movies at bedtime.

      Precious moments...

  3. Anonymous4/02/2015

    In Junior High School I had a teacher that read to us on a regular basis. Students who had behavior problems in other classes sat enthralled listening to the likes of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

    Around that same age, I was tasked with visiting an elderly neighbor who had lost her eyesight. I would read to her a few times a week. What a wonderful experience for me and I think for her as well. I know as I struggle to read now with my eye muscles getting weaker, I'd love to have someone read to me!

    1. Miss Marla,

      It is amazing how reading out loud and story telling can still enthral in a time of high tech entertainments. It really can't be beat.

      How nice of you to read for your neighbour. I hope that someone can return the favour for you.

  4. I love reading out loud. When I read to my 8 year old (we're on the last Harry Potter), my 13 year son sneaks quietly in to listen even though he's read the book several times. It's such a nice time together. I haven't read Winnie the Pooh for ages, I really enjoy that because it's so funny! I wish teachers would read out loud at my children's schools instead of sticking them in front of the tv :(

    1. Jess,

      Your 13 year old son knows where it is at. That is awesome.

      TVs should be banished from the classroom, or only used when simpler teaching methods are not appropriate.

      Your kids are fortunate to have someone in their lives that knows and promotes the value of reading out loud and sharing stories with each other.


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