The Joy of Listening to a Book Read Aloud

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.

Two girls stretched out in a window seat with one of the girls reading to the other.

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. 

Improved Vocabulary 

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.

Better Comprehension

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. 

great schools.org

Bonding

Black and white photo of the joy of reading aloud with a woman and a little girl lying in bed while the woman reads Horton Hears a Who aloud.

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.

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