Story Time Reviews, a monthly feature on this blog, remembers that special time when an adult reads to a child and recognizes that as a grown-up, we need to reward ourselves with a story time now and then. This series reviews audio versions of short stories. Do you enjoy listening to audio books? Do you enjoy reading aloud to a family member? Or vice versa? Often during my grandson’s weekly visits he will read aloud to me. I find this personally valuable, but it got me to wondering if there are additional benefits. Though the joy of listening to a book read aloud has plenty of value, there are many other benefits to listening to stories read aloud.
Increases Listening Skills
Listening to a story read out loud forces the person listening to focus on the sounds of the words. One develops a greater attention span. The reader adds value to the story with the inflections and stresses of the words and sentences they use. This engages the critical listening skills of the listener.
Critical listening is paying attention to all the parts of the story. You analyze and evaluate what you’re hearing. Uh-oh, that character’s in trouble now!
When you are critically listening, you apply your skills and focus on understanding what is being said.
When you read aloud or listen to a story, you read one word at a time instead of scanning phrases like you do when reading silently.
This gives both the listeners and the readers opportunities to recognize new words, connect the word to a meaning, and understand the word in context. It also helps with pronunciation if the reader is familiar with the word.
When my grandson stumbles on an unfamiliar word, he looks to me for the pronunciation and definition. On occasion I need to look up the word for one or both. That gives us both an opportunity to learn.
The reader’s inflections and emphasis convey meaning to the story. Sometimes my grandson’s tone informs me that he’s finding personal meaning in part of the story. Then, I can ask questions like, “Do you think the boy made the right choice?” “Is that a the way a real friend acts?”
When you talk about a book together, it’s not a lecture, it’s more like a coach looking at a film with his players, going over the plays to find out what went right and what went wrong.
Reader and listener experience a connection during a read aloud session. No matter their ages, each is focused on the other and derive pleasure from the activity. The reader and listener do not have to be related. Bonds between reader and listener grow warmer. Reading becomes a pleasurable activity.
I used to volunteer at local grade schools. I helped first graders practice their reading skills and led book discussions called Lunch and Learn. In both situations, the joy on the student’s faces was a highly rewarding.
My grandson reads aloud quite well now. He often expresses sarcasm at a character’s behavior. “Like that would work.” Or, “How does he think that’s going to turn out?” Sometimes a phrase or story situation distracts him and he’ll relate an incident in his own life. The story triggered a memory and he wants to share it with me. Those are gems I treasure.
The Joy of Listening to a Book Read Aloud
The joy of listening to a book read grows exponentially when it’s read by a loved one. That’s not the only benefit. Adults and children gain improved listening skills, vocabulary, and comprehension. In addition, the bonds between reader and listener can make reading an ever pleasurable experience and a life-long habit.
Does someone read to you? Do you read aloud to someone? If you’ve never experienced that joy, I hope this post will encourage you to read aloud. Volunteer at local schools, libraries, hospitals, nursing homes, or hospices. Do you experience the joy of listening to a book read aloud? Please take a moment and tell us about your experience.
You are a reader. Whether you read stories or novels, on paper or on an electronic device, you get pleasure out of reading. But I’ll bet there’s at least one thing you can do to improve your experience. Consider these 12 ways to increase your reading pleasure and let me know if you try one.
The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.
Ursula K. Le Guin
1. Decide What to Read
What do you want to achieve? Learn something? Be entertained? Be frightened silly? Be encouraged by a hero?
Read what you like. Unless it’s a school assignment or a skill-learning attempt, don’t waste time reading what you don’t like. Also read books for your reading level or a bit higher. Don’t know what your reading level is? Go to the library (or an online store like Amazon, Kobo, or B&N for those of us self-quarantining), and look at the first pages of a book that interests you. Your reading level should be a bit uncomfortable (in order to stretch yourself) but not so difficult that you put the book down and down and never go back to it.
Switch it up. Read for entertainment one time, read to learn the next…Or read a romance then a thriller then science fiction. (Or whichever genres you prefer.) The point is to read different genres. Try something you’ve never read before. It will enhance your experience of read and will stretch your brain & thinking.
2. Always have a Book on Deck
If you’re a list person, have a list that’s great, but also have the next one or two books on hand. Some people like to have a to-be-read pile—literally sitting on their shelf or floor. (Don’t ask whose bookshelf broke under the weight of her TBR’s.)
Find a source for new-to-you book recommendations. Try one of the many sites where you can find book lists: Pinterest, book clubs (virtual and in-person), book buddies, and social media groups (search Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
My First Line Fridays posts on this site offer the first lines of books for your consideration.
Keep a list—written in your journal, a Pinterest board, or a file on your tablet or computer.
3. Make Where You Read Pleasurable
Each person’s most pleasurable reading place will be unique. A book nook somewhere in your home or someplace else. The location should be a place where you love to read. Is that out in nature, in your bedroom, a Library, a coffee shop, a reading shed? You decide.
Of course you should choose the clothing that makes you comfortable.
Which position do you most prefer for reading? Is an overstuffed chair with lots of pillows, or at a table, or is curling up in a beanbag chair your thing?If you like to read in the bath, consider using a bathtub organizer.
Set the ambiance just for you. Perhaps you like instrumental music or nature sounds (real or recorded) in the background while you read. Binaural Beats might give you the ability to sink into a book. Maybe you prefer silence.
What scents make your reading experience delightful? Fresh flowers, a scented candle, or essential oil may help transport you into that book’s world.
And don’t forget good lighting and the right temperature. Warm or cool? A fan set on low? Or would you like to bundle up in blankets?
4. Gather Reading Accessories
What will you need to make your reading experience extra pleasurable? Fill your reading nook or spot with the things that make reading enjoyable. Choose a special journal and a pen or pencil (or if electronic—the device you need).
If you like to mark passages, invest in colored markers or self-sticking notes or page markers.
It’s your choice whether to use blankets and pillows to create a reading fort.
If you don’t have a dedicated reading nook—get a reusable bag and keep your reading accessories in it—now you have a portable reading nook
5. Schedule Time to Read
Life gets busy and stressful. Especially in the interesting times during which we are living. We may miss reading time because other priorities or events get in the way. Remember, if it’s not on the schedule, it’s not done.Set a specific time on a specific date or day of the week for reading.
While you’re at it, schedule library borrowing time or Book shopping time.
6. Use a Reading Tracker
Nick Wignall introduced me to the so-called Seinfeld Method to track your reading. Put a wall or desk calendar in your reading nook or with your reading accessories. When you accomplish your reading goal, whether it’s minutes, hours, or pages, fill in a square on the calendar with a brightly colored marker. On a day when you don’t accomplish your goal, put a big fat X. The point is to make it visible. You can easily see how often you’re meeting your goal. Bet you’ll want to see if you can achieve your goal more days in a row. And you can adjust your goal up or down as needed.
I keep a spreadsheet and a journal. Both are also for my writing. I add the book’s title on the start date & the end date. (I’m nerdy like that.)
7. Join a Book Club or Find a Book Buddy
Join a book club. Or if groups make you uncomfortable, find a reading buddy or two.
Listening to what others say about the book expands your experience. Is your experience different from theirs? Why do you think you experienced it differently? Did you learn something new from what the others said?
You can find virtual book clubs and book buddies on social media platforms.
8. Journal Your Reading
This is important for me. I read and write so much, it’s often difficult to remember if that book was about this.
Journal about the book you’re reading. Jot notes about identifiers or memory jogs like the setting, time, characters, and character goals. Or write about what specifically you like about the book, what don’t you like, what intrigues you, what do you wish you knew more about. Need more suggestions? Read #9 Explore the book.
9. Explore the Book
When you encounter a word you don’t know—look it up. If using your smart phone distracts you and you end up down a social media rabbit-hole—use a physical book. You can buy a cheap paperback dictionary for just a few dollars.
Is there a foreword or afterword? Did you read it? How did it improve or add to your experience reading the book?
Look up the setting on the internet. It might be real. In my Fellowship Dystopia series, I used some actual locations and some real routes.
Use your imagination to “be in the setting.” What sights, scents, textures, and sounds are there? Is one stronger than the others? What one sight or sound or scent reminds you of the book?
Look up the story concept of a science fiction novel online. See if you can figure out what information inspired the author.
Explore the characters. Are they real-life characters? Read a short online bio to see how true to reality the writer made that character.
Write a letter to a character or write a letter as if you were one character writing the other.
10. Try the Audio Experience
Buy or borrow an audio book (yes, libraries will lend them). Listening to a book, you experience the story differently. If the narrator is skillful, it’s as pleasurable as reading to yourself.
Try reading aloud to increase your reading pleasure. Read to a child or to yourself. Reading aloud will help you read each word and process the book differently from reading silently. Some authors have rhyming or rhythmic styles that are quite pleasurable to read out loud.
11. Learn more about the Author
Many authors have websites with bios and bits of information about their life and their writing. Visit their Amazon author pages, or Goodreads bios, or look them up on Twitter or Facebook. Instagram has a special hashtag called bookstagram you might enjoy.
12. Send the Author Feedback
Write a review on the online store where you bought the book or on the author’s website in the comments or send them an email. If you discover you like several of the author’s books, join their newsletter or their street team.
I hope you enjoyed and found 12 Ways to Increase Your Reading Pleasure helpful. Do you do any of these things? Which ones work best for you?
You already know that reading is good for your brain. You love to read. Whether you read fantasy or hard science fiction or horror or any other genre, you have a reading style. There are all kinds of way to define a reader’s style. Today we’re asking you a question: What’s your reading style? There are twelve possible styles in this post to inspire you when you describe your style.
Reading aloud is something you do if you’ve had children, babysat children, or are a grandmother. But sometimes the sound of the words fill you and spill out of your lips. Do you read aloud to yourself? Or to someone else?
Reading in Your Head
Most adults don’t read aloud. It’s awkward on a bus or a plane. Do you only read in your head?
Reading through Audio Books
Some people claim it isn’t reading if you’re listening to an audio book. A book on audio can entertain, ignite imagination, and make you think. Isn’t that what reading does? (And it’s much safer to listen than read while in motion!)
Some people read along with the audio book.
Do you listen to audio books? So you like to read along with the audio?
Sitting and Reading
There isn’t a plain way to sit and read. Sitting places and sitting style vary almost as much as reading styles. Scan the other pictures in this post and you’ll see a few different sitting and reading styles.
Reclining and Reading
Perhaps you prefer to recline when you read. Do you recline in bed, in a special chair, or a hammock?
Reading in Motion
Confess, have you been reading and bumped into some immovable object? Do you read on a treadmill or other motion machine?
Reading and Eating
Are you opposed to having any food or drink near your books? Or do you indulge in a snack or even a meal while reading?
Indoor reading can happen in almost any building or any room. What’s the most unusual place where you’ve been reading?
Outdoor Reader (outdoor)
Does being outdoors enhance your reading pleasure? Or is that a big no for you?
Sometimes you might be a secret reader. Did you ever read by flashlight as a child? Do you do that as an adult?
Reading Day or Time
Perhaps you have set aside a specific day or time for reading? Are you a scheduled reader?
Some of you are lucky enough to have a dedicated reading spot. The choices of where to read are endless. Reading nooks, reading rooms, coffee shops, libraries, bedrooms, or on the floor, where do you read?
My Reading Style
I think I may have mentioned once or twice that I need more time for reading. An eighth day of the week would work. Since I don’t have that, I don’t read at a specific day or time or place.
Typically, I sit with my feet up and read. I might have coffee or a soft drink and some pretzels or popcorn on hand. If the book captures me, I forget the food and drink exist. And, yes. I read under the covers by flashlight as a child. Not so much today as I usually work or read until I’m too tired to stay awake.
I wish I had a reading nook. Some of them look inviting. But for now, I read in my comfortable living room or at my desk in my office.
What’s Your Reading Style?
Now, dear reader, it’s your turn. What’s your reading style? Please share your favorite reading habits in the comments below.
TGIF! Though these days Fridays don’t feel the same, do they? However, this Friday is your Sneak Peek, If I Should Die Chapter 5 episode. (If you don’t want to wade through the recap, skip down to Chapter Five.)
If I Should Die is book 2 in The Fellowship DystopiaSeries (formerly called the My Soul to Keep series.) It’s the continuation of Miranda’s story.
Miranda has built a successful Safe Harbor rescue system across the inland waters of the United States. Refugees from the religious oppression of the Fellowship find safety and freedom aboard the Safe Harbor boats. But now her brother needs rescued so he can complete his mission. She’s committed to helping him, but she’s a peace-loving woman. Will she resort to violence and save lives or stick to her principles and sacrifice many?
Chapter One: Miranda pilots her yacht, the Lady Angelfish, up the Missouri River to rescue her brother, but the U.S. Coast Guard and a Second Sphere agent stop her for a “routine” inspection. You can watch me read the entire Chapter One or read a brief sample.
Chapter Two: Irene, Miranda’s sister, can’t believe she’s the wife of the newly appointed Prophet. Nor can she believe she’s at the White House sitting with President Joseph Kennedy Jr. But there are drawbacks to being the Prophet’s wife. When she’s offered a role in a new “secret” project, she’s more than intrigued. You can watch me read the entire Chapter Two or read a brief sample.
Chapter Three: As a nighttime thunderstorm rages, Beryl tries to persuade Miranda to wait. But Miranda insists she must go ashore to find her brother. And since Beryl has sworn to protect Miranda, she must go too. But when someone sneaks up on them, Beryl’s hesitation to shoot endangers them. You can watch me read the entire Chapter Three or read a brief sample.
Chapter Four: After Miranda rescues her brother, he insists she’s in danger because his refugee claims that the Azrael are being reborn. Beryl reminds him that they destroyed the island with all the equipment and records for how to clone Azrael. Miranda can’t help but believe that since they had a Second Sphere agent on board the Lady Angelfish early in the day who didn’t recognize them, they are safe. You can watch me read the entire Chapter Four or read a brief sample.
Irene walked out of Garfinkel’s Department Store hand-in-hand with her daughters. Each of them carried a small bag with new shoes. Annabelle had a scowl on her face, but Sandra kept up a nonstop happy chatter. Shopping in DC was nothing like Buenos Aires. She missed the colorful shops and especially the open-air market. But the teachers’ conference day gave her an excuse to do things with her girls. Not a cloud marred the blue sky above and the spring-like temperature made this close to a perfect day. Perfect despite Annabelle’s dislike of shopping for shoes.
Irene didn’t want the day to end. A glance at her delicate gold wristwatch put a smile on her face. She’d told the chauffeur to pick them up at three. They had another half-hour to kill. Where should we go? She scanned the street. Half-a block down, a neon sign shaped like an ice cream cone hung above a small shop. “Girls, what do you say to some ice cream?”
Annabelle’s scowl lightened. “Can we have whatever we want?”
Irene grinned. “Banana Splits coming up.” That ice cream confection had been new to Annabelle just a few months ago. It had quickly become her favorite.
Soon the three of them sat at in chairs with heart-shaped wire backs at a round, pink table. The little shop teemed with happy, chattering people. They buzzed back and forth over the display case, oohing and ahhhing at the dozens of flavors and toppings. They ordered ice cream cookies, ice cream cones, and scoops of ice cream.
Irene took a small bite and let the cold creamy strawberry flavor melt in her mouth.
Annabelle attacked her banana split with precision. One bite from the chocolate scoop, one from the strawberry, and the next one from the vanilla.
Sandra dug into a pile of whipped cream and chocolate sauce covered banana. Spoon over-filled, she jammed it into her mouth, leaving a whipped cream mustache behind.
Irene thought her heart would explode with joy.
A brilliant flash of light blinded her. She blinked, tried to clear the dark spots that danced in her vision. Boom! The glass window shattered and showered the room with glass.
A blow hit Irene, knocked the wind out of her. Rocked the table. Sounds around her had a hollow, down-in-a-barrel quality.
Air whooshed out of her, out of the room.
For a split second, time stopped.
Her ears popped.
Screams and shouts roared.
She gasped, sucked in air. What just happened?
Her pulse roared in her ears and slammed against her chest.
Sprays of shattered glass covered the table.
Peppered Sandra’s hair.
Sandra screamed and flailed her arms.
Irene leaped to Sandra’s side. She didn’t seem injured—no blood, no part where it didn’t belong. Wrapping her arms around her daughter, Irene murmured soothing sounds, kissed the top of Sandra’s head, and searched the room. Irene’s pulse raced faster and faster. Annabelle?Where is Annabelle?
The video for Sneak Peek, If I Should Die, Chapter 5 will be up by next Friday. I hope you’ve enjoyed these little bits of work that I’ve shared. More than that, I hope you and your family are safe and well. Thank you for reading!
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to step back from 24 hour roller coaster of Corona Virus News. Not that I don’t understand the significance and the scale of this thing. But my brain and my emotions need a break. I need a distraction—Do you need a distraction too? Music? Learn? Read on. I’ve distractions a plenty.
Up Beat Sing-Along
Long time readers know I love music. It’s my go-to stress reliever. Here are four songs and lyrics that will lift your spirits. Belt it out. You’ll feel better.
Que Sera Sera—Doris Day
Uptown Funk—Bruno Mars
Bob Marley – Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Mary Poppins (1964) – “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”
Your family won’t let you sing out loud? Sic these ear worms on them. You’ll all be singing.
Don’t forget to check out TED Talks for topics you’re interested in.
And you don’t have to go online. What about that jigsaw puzzle in the bottom of your closet? Play a game of Old Maid or work a book of crossword puzzles.
The Need for Distraction
In uncertain times being frightened, anxious, or just plain emotional is normal. But it’s also exhausting. Take care of yourselves. Give yourself permission to do something fun or silly or creative. You need a distraction or two or three… I need some too. What have you found that helps you?