I don’t need to make a case for reading here. Since you’re reading this paper, obviously, you’re a reader. But if it’s been a while since you read a good book, it’s time to visit the library, and what better time than this week during National Library Week?
I’ll take it a step further and ask “when did you last read a book out loud to someone?” If you have grandchildren, you may be home free on that one. The last full book I read to my girls was the third Harry Potter book. When the quite thick, fourth book came out, I let them read it themselves and dropped out of the Potter pander.
Finally, late last fall, Kathie jump-started me on that fourth Potter book when she read the first chapter aloud to me. It took us a few nights; she had to stop and ask things like, “Mom, what did you hear me say last before you went to sleep?” but once the action at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry cast its spell on me, it swept me to the finish.
My passion for reading aloud is well validated by Confessions of a Math Teacher, an article that describes educator Brenda Dyck’s experiences with her middle school students. She began reading to her students in homeroom or whenever they could grab a few minutes. At first, Dyck was a little surprised by her students’ enthusiasm and was afraid that “playing hooky from math” spurned them to show false interest. “Then,” says Dyck, “one day, when I happened to look up from my reading, I realized that 25 pairs of eyes were glued to me. All ears were listening with rapt anticipation.”
Feedback from students in the halls went like this:
Are you reading to us today?
We haven’t been read to since grade 5. I love being read to.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT BEING READ TO? She asked her students why they so enjoyed being read to and they told her:
When you get older, no one ever reads to you in school.
I love your voice. It helps me picture what’s going on in the story, and I don’t have to struggle with figuring the words out.
It’s so relaxing. It helps me settle down so that I can work later.
Now, they beg her to read to them. She asked her colleagues if they were reading aloud to their students. She learned that few teachers felt they could take the time, even though they wished they could.
WHAT A SHAMEFUL SITUATION IS THIS – NO TIME TO READ ALOUD IN OUR SCHOOLS?
I’ve read that the prestigious University of Oxford makes a practice of organizing “reading salons” where professors read scholarly works aloud to their students. They recognize some of the many benefits this can bring. Reading aloud: