Reading aloud and other ways to connect with books.

Black and white photo of lady sitting on a couch with a toddler boy sitting on her lap. They are reading a picture book together. A standard lamp illuminates the room
Reading aloud is a wonderful pastime, I have fond memories of all the hours of my childhood I was read to.  Both at home and at school, even high school.  As well as the hours and hours I read to siblings when they were small.

I encourage you to incorporate reading aloud into your life if you are able to.  It might be having someone read aloud to you, or listening to an audiobook alone or with someone else.  Too often time spent together is in front of a screen.  See if you can swap some time and share a book instead.  Maybe your partner does most of the reading, that is fine if they are happy.  You might be surprised how quickly you get through a book reading aloud for a short time most nights.

If you are chronically ill there may be aspects of reading aloud that are challenging and may stop you trying.  These may include feeling out of breath or struggling cognitively.  You could frame reading aloud as exercise for body and mind.  Be gentle with yourself if you don’t read aloud as smoothly as you once did, focus on the story and the company.  Push your comfort zone a bit.

Here are 5 ideas including things I do and other things you could try.

1) You could read to a niece/nephew/grandchild/friends child over Skype or the phone or they might read to you.  It is really special to share a child’s reading development and will become a fond memory for both of you as they grow up.

2) I have bought books for one friends daughter since she was born.  Her parents are Chinese and I love being able to introduce the family to all the books I enjoyed growing up.

3) Every time I am in an op-shop I have a quick scan of the shelves to see if there are titles I want to buy and give to her.  Whilst I don’t read aloud to her now the shared connection over books we made starting when she was a baby is really special.  As she advanced from picture books years ago she would return boxes of books she had finished with that we pass along to other children in our social circle. (I write my name in marker on the back of each book so they find their way back to me).

4) Ordering books online to be delivered to friends and family who aren’t nearby or who you won’t see around their birthday or Christmas.

5) I have a friend who lives in a different state and we rely on email to keep in touch.  We use updating each other on fiction titles we have been reading (or listening to) as a thread in our irregular emails.  A lot of the titles we share are Australian literary fiction and it has encouraged me to read this genre and have an eye ought for new titles to read.

6) There might be a child  in your neighbourhood who needs some help with their reading practice or a busy mum who would appreciate you visiting and reading with their kids instead of screen time for half an hour a week.  Or if you live near a school you could look into volunteering with their reading program.

Comment below if you enjoy reading aloud too, and leave any tips or suggestions other readers may find useful or inspiring.