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On Reading Aloud

A brand-new LibriVox volunteer, Kate, posted a link to her beautiful essay:
On Reading Aloud
Her words ring so true.

Some people think that when children are doing other things while they are being read to, it means they are not listening. That is false. What they hear is made complete by what they do with their bodies while they listen. The problem with making children read to themselves and silently is that it requires them to sit still, which is not natural to them. They might choose not do it at all as the stillness of it is too hard for many of them to bear.

Yes! Yes! When he was small, Henry would literally orbit the room while I read to him. Now that he’s eleven, he’ll usually sit still to listen but likes to have a “fiddly toy” in his hands. I was the same — when Dad read to us every night, I’d work on an embroidery project or a latch-hook kit, or just smush a wad of silly-putty. Even now I prefer to knit while listening to audiobooks. Somehow I can concentrate on the story better if my fingers are moving and part of my mind is lightly occupied (knit 3, purl 1…)

Even to ourselves, as adults, we ought to read aloud. We make our tongues conform to another’s pattern of language, and that frees us from our own, and improves our own language. We have this gift of the English language and what is written in it. To apprehend it best, we ought use all the senses we have available, as more than sight can be involved.

Yes! As a volunteer for LibriVox, I’ve dipped into some wonderful literature, previously unknown to me, reading a chapter of this, a chapter of that, always aloud. I think it would be more difficult to enjoy such random samples if I were reading silently. Reading aloud throws me right into the thick of things. And when I re-read an old favorite aloud, I discover beautiful bits that I never noticed before because I am, I admit, a fast reader who glides through a book without noticing every nuance.

Thanks, Kate, for sharing your thoughts on this subject :)

Category: Blog 5 comments »

5 Responses to “On Reading Aloud”

  1. Chloe

    Awesome! I always loved being read to outloud or reading to someone else much more than reading silently by myself.

  2. Kevin

    Everyday I walk to school, which is a good 45min walk I always turn on my ipod and listen to a good story. Recently heard stories were Fairy Tales by the Brother’s Grimm and The Five Children and It by E. Nesbit. I really do find the stories interesting.

    My friends always laugh at me because I’m hearing people tell stories while they are listening to rap this and hip hop that. But I fancy stories more then listening to music these days. Not to mention hearing the voice of someone that tells the stories with such emotions and happiness. Literally Kay, your voice brings a smile to my face. I’m hoping as I delve more into reading more works from Librivox, I’d hear your muse-like voice.

    I just want to drop by and say thanks for the work you do at Librivox and I really do appreciate you lending your time to read stories for everyone.

    A VERY happy listener,

  3. kara

    Thank you so much, Kev! I’m really glad my reading puts a smile on your face. If you want to find everything I’ve ever read for librivox, you can go to our catalog page:, click “advanced search form,” change status to “complete,” and put “kayray” in the reader field. You’ll get a list of all the completed works in which I read at least one chapter or poem :)

    If you like a good murder mystery, I recommend “Whose Body.” I read half the chapters, and the wonderful Kristin read the other half.

    For an awesome adventure, try The Scarlet Pimpernel, read entirely by the extremely talented Karen! I’m listening to it now and it’s just wonderful.

  4. Gina

    That essay was awesome! I wish I could express myself like she does.
    I hope you are well, and hope to hear from you soon!

  5. hugh

    in any kind of meetings or businessy phone conversations I always doodle (or pace). I am listening, but the doodling/pacing calms me enough to concentrate on the words I am hearing.

    I listen to tons of audio stuff – NPR type radio – while doing other things. cooking for instance.

    audiobooks are different, I find I can listen to them only if i am a) walking or b) driving… or c) doing some kind of simple manual labour (painting) …

    but i can’t really imagine listening to an audiobook without doing something else – hilarious that we expect kids to “sit still and listen.”

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