Reading Aloud

I don’t remember my parents reading aloud to me, though I’m sure they did. I do remember reading to my kids. In fact, I still do if I can talk them into it. Or hogtie them. I also used to be the audiobook when traveling, reading over long trips to my husband and the kids. In fact, that’s how I introduced them to Harry Potter. Before that I’d read just to my husband, often reading mysteries and thrillers.

I really enjoyed reading out loud. I also enjoy audiobooks, but I liked being the reader. In the ‘good old days,’ people frequently read aloud to each other and that sparked conversations, shared experiences, shared jokes, and many other things. . Maybe books, maybe scripture or sermons, maybe letters, maybe magazines and news, and anything else they could lay hands on. It was part of the family life–though not so much in the classes who couldn’t read or afford reading material. That got replaced to some extent by radio, and then by TV and other electronics. It’s a shame. They don’t result in the same kind of bonding experience. More than that, it’s just fun.

When I was a kid, we used to listen to Mystery Theater on the radio on the way to 4H meetings and home. I loved those shows. I wish I had access to them still. Does anybody remember it?

It’s funny how we stop reading to kids and having that experience when they reach a certain age (it differs for everyone) and then most of us just never pick it up again. I sometimes feel a little awkward reading, but I enjoy it. Not sure I can get my teen kids to sit still for it, or my husband, but I think I might bring back the tradition. Maybe one night a week. A short story would be a good choice. Something short enough not to have to continue week to week might keep them involved better. Or maybe just read every night for a little bit.



About Diana Pharaoh Francis

A recovering academic, Diana Pharaoh Francis writes books of a fantastical, adventurous, and often romantic nature. She's owned by two corgis, spends much of her time herding children, and likes rocks, geocaching, knotting up yarn, and has a thing for 1800s England, especially the Victorians. Check out samples of just about everything on her website:


Reading Aloud — 12 Comments

  1. My dad still does this, and it’s one of the special family bonding traditions that makes for good memories. When we were young both mom and dad would read us bedtime stories, but it gradually became mostly dad. After dinner and the washing up (our job as teenagers) we’d all sit down with our coffee or chocolate milk for half an hour while dad read a chapter from the current book. Now we’re all grown up and only my brother (who’s 48) eats dinner with the parents, but the tradition is still going. When I’m with them for a holiday I love to sit listening, while doing my patchwork (by hand) – it’s a tranquil start to the evening, and even as teenagers we appreciated the chance for a rest and reset before having to get back to our homework.
    If you choose your books and timing right, your kids may love it as well.

    Two decades ago, dad got a microphone and started recording his readings. When the grandkids were born, he recorded lots of fun childrens books, and the grandkids loved falling asleep to the sound of grandpa reading to them (they lived too far away to see them often).
    Now, I can listen to him read while doing quiet hobby-things like sewing, and am building up a library of beloved books read by him for when my eyesight goes bad. He’s in his eighties now, and suddenly growing old; and I love having all these special memories of him reading to us on holidays while mom and I sewed, and having the library of digital recordings to listen to later, when I know I’ll be missing them.

  2. When Harry Potter was new, a friend had to keep the newest book locked up. Then the family would spend several hours of each evening reading the book aloud. That way no one got ahead of anyone else, there was no fighting over who had the book, etc. etc.

    It also helped the dyslexic kid with his reading exercises, and the painfully shy daughter overcome her fear of speaking to more than one person. A wonderful family gathering. And now that the children have children of their own, they are introducing this special family time with other books, and Harry Potter as they grow old enough to understand it.

    • Summer evenings, all the youngsters gathered around in various positions on the furniture and floors, ultimately begging for “just one more chapter? Please?!” And then suddenly they got “too old” and wanted to read on their own. I miss those days immensely—and I thank J.K. Rowling for providing some of the material which made them so entertaining.

      I never dreaded summer holidays with the kids; it was always such a relaxing time. For some reason, I’m feeling the loss this year more than ever. I’ve been searching desperately for that old magic, but can’t seem to find it in anything.

  3. This is an interesting idea. We still read to our young son but never considered expanding it out.

    I admit, it drives me nuts when my FIL and mother read to me, but they are usually reading a snippet (of something I am usually either not that interested in OR will be reading the paper myself very shortly and would rather read the entire article) and usually out of the blue when I’m concentrating on something else.

    I could see it being different if it was planned AND wasn’t random bits. Hmmm…..might be a good way to read The Hobbit. Hmm….thank you for the idea!

  4. One of my treasured memories is hearing my parents read to each other in the evening after I went to bed – serials in the Saturday Evening Post. I heard a lot of Hornblower way back then. And westerns.