Friday, April 10, 2009

The Case for Reading Out Loud

We are never too old to be read to.

Growing up on Hillandale Road in Kalamazoo, Mich., I remember my brother, four years younger than I, sitting on one side of my mother and I on the other. I was probably eight years old, which made him four. I could read by myself, but it was so much more fun to sit on either side of Mom in a rust-colored wingback chair by the fireplace and have her read to us. My brother would ask questions, and I would answer them, my mother only jumping in if I were off track. From her I learned the importance of reading with liveliness, and not letting the end of the sentence trail off. These were not things she articulated as rules, but rather modeled by her delivery.

My mother signed us up for the I Can Read Book Club, and I read these books aloud to my brother: Frog and Toad, Little Bear, Jenny the Firecat, Danny and the Dinosaur. I never tired of reading aloud to him, and it built my confidence as a reader. Before long, he was joining in with me, recognizing phrases and repeating them in unison.

There are few things that form a tighter connection than reading aloud something that moves you or riles you or pulls you deep into a plot. Reader and listener form an immediate unshakable bond.