The Explosive Power of Reading Aloud

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I am a changed man.

Reading aloud is transforming me.

I always loved books. I always loved reading.

Yet, as I grew older, gradually my reading became less frequent and more oriented towards professional and "grown-up" stuff.

Children's books? Forgot all about them in my thirties.

I mean, come on, children's books?

It seems that by labeling them "children's books", we adults simply set them aside mentally.

We push them back into a virtual shelf of our minds.

Yes, we stuff them into a bookcase at the very back of our mental basement. With a high stack of winter  tires blocking the bookcase door.

Admittedly, I am not excited to read to my twins every day.

No, of course not. I mean, who could be excited every day?

No, no. I am not excited. I am ecstatic. More excited than ever.

We are reading 3-4 chapter books concurrently and going through dozens of picture books each week.

I am truly amazed at the fact that four-year old kids can be so intellectually mature.

Their facial expressions tell me everything. 

The pauses they make when they think. When they try to amaze me.

Their questions and their deep understanding truly baffles me.

Reading Makes Everything Possible

No flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris.
         Orville Wright

My twins are now enjoying books now that I wasn't able to read when I was ten years old.

Why? Just because I lent them my reading machine.

I am borrowing my eyes and my voice and my brain power - so that all three of us can enjoy great literature.

It is such a simple concept.

Just lend your "reading machine" to your kids. Every day - for a couple of hours.

It is the explosive power of reading aloud. 

My friends and wider family - they know about our daily reading habit of course, but I cannot successfully verbalize my enthusiasm.

I cannot verbalize what a great power it is to expose your kids to the best children's literature.

Reading it together. 

Small kids have deep understanding. They are incredible human beings - with all the purity and lust of knowledge that many of us lost through the years.

My kids put me in touch with the best children's books again.

They are reinventing me as a better man.

I always loved books. I always loved reading.

But that is not enough.

Saying "I love books" is like ..... like saying that you love the Amazon rainforest.

Reading aloud is like jumping from a plane into the heart of the Brazilian rainforest with just a parachute on your back and a small knapsack tied to your waist. 

I don't "love" children's books any more.

I'm jumping daily.

Reading aloud is transforming me. 

I am a changed man.


  1. This is exactly how I feel. Thank's for being an awesome Dad and spreading the love around!

  2. Thank you Burgin,

    So glad that you enjoyed it! The praise means a lot coming from you. 

    Some posts are easy to write. This one was straight from the heart. (The shortest way from pen to paper is not through the brain, sometimes)

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: B. Streetman 

  3. Reading is such an amazing way to connect with your children.  You create memories and sometimes family traditions or inside jokes from the time you spend together with books. 

  4. Perfect sentiment! High five - Dad!
    : D

  5. Mu husband read most of Charlotte's Web to our 4-year-old. There were 2 chapters left. We were a little concerned, because I remember being VERY sad about Charlotte's death when I read it as a child, and she can be an emotional kid. We told her it had an ending that was kind of sad, but also happy. She flat out asked me what happens that is sad. I told her that spiders don't live very long lives, so it might be sad. She didn't choose to read it for many weeks. Last night she asked me to finish reading it to her.  I cried reading about Charlotte's death. She kissed away my tears and comforted me. Not exactly how I thought that would go! After we finished, she smiled and kissed me, and said, "You were right, Mommy. It was sad and happy." Pretty amazing experience. I feel like we know each other a little better now. Courtesy of a great book.

  6. I enjoyed the analogy with jumping into the rainforest.  It conveys exactly the feeling of how a book can transport you into another world.

  7. Thanks Caroline Starr, thanks!

    Praise from you warms my heart! Especially as I know how much you do to promote children's books and literacy.

    I know that you are an explorer roaming through the Brazilian rainforest too! :-)

    Lots of love

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: Caroline Starr Rose 

  8. Thanks so much John!

    Indeed, reading is such an adrenaline-filled activity! It takes your preconceptions about something and flips them over many times. 
    We are in several different worlds these days - and it is soooo much fun!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: John Jackson 

  9. Hi JenRay!

    Wow, what an experience you had together. That is the most moving comment I read on this blog.

    Your daughter just proves how important it is not to discriminate by age - the full package of humanity is in all of us. Young and old. 

    To quote your words: "Courtesy of a great book". Great books indeed can do wonders for literacy and for relationships. Thanks so much for sharing this poignant moment.

    Also, you have just answered a question that has been lingering in the back of my mind for months (when is the earliest time to read Charlotte's Web) - I thought that the earliest age would be older. Now, I know that whenever they are ready (I loved the fact that you told your daughter that "the ending was kind of sad, but also happy") - we can read it. 

    Thanks again for this beautiful comment that is certain to be inspiring to many parents.

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @3147619b78e6ac6114a8223e688ef0db 

  10. Thanks so much for the vote of confidence "Donna Who?"

    So glad you enjoyed it! 

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: Donna Who? 

  11. Yay! What a great post. Reading aloud is truly magical. It's amazing. I love how easily we can talk about so many great things through books. We read every night to our two sons and it's the best part of the day! 

  12. I love this!  My husband is reading the Hardy Boys series aloud with my twins.  I'm pretty sure he's enjoying it more than the twins!

  13. Thanks for your kind comment!

    BTW, I am 100% sure that your husband is having the time of his life reading aloud the Hardy Boys to your twins! I can't wait to read a HB book again, myself!

    Thank God, the kids are a great excuse to dust off those old books!

    Read Aloud Dad

    RE: @380cb5c37963ffe5637ea9df6bf40b86 

  14. Hi Elaine,

    You hit the nail on the head here! It is indeed the best way to connect with children - and a fantastic way to deepen a relationship. 

    Without books, I don't think I would have such a fantastic rapport with my twins - and that is an added benefit of reading aloud! And all these joint memories!

    Thanks for bringing it up.

    Read Aloud Dad

    RE: @29b67fbe76b35b7c780c5a4c270db233 

  15. Hey Jen, thanks a million! 

    Congratulations on sharing so many books with your two sons every night - they are certainly having the time of their lives! 

    As you said - "it's the best part of the day" - when nothing else interferes, when parents and kids can finally devote enough time to each other and to go on an unexpected adventure together.

    Isn't it nice? Isn't it grand? Isn't it fantastic! 

    Now, after reading your comment, I can't wait until tonight to read another chapter of Beyond the Pawpaw trees to my twins! 

    Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this uplifting comment!
    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @abd52ca0b651f75b5a31fdbc94f5abad 

  16. Thanks for stopping by my blog.  I agree that reading aloud to ones children is a wonderful and powerful experience... and it gets better as they get older.  It is also such a wonderful way to introduce them to stories that they wouldn't be able to read to themselves for years.  One year as we were driving across the country we listened to the entire book of Oliver Twist.  At that point my children were between the ages of 12 and 3.  Everyone loved it.  

    The other wonderful thing it does is it creates a common family culture and language; it is a shared experience and gives everyone the same frames of reference.  Not only are we strengthening our children's minds as we read to them, but we are strengthening our family unit as well.


  17. Wow, what a great comment! 

    Thanks for the words of wisdom - indeed reading aloud is a seed that yields many fruits! 

    Oh, you made my heart race when I read your words "it gets better as they get older"!

    a big hug from 

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @97fb444eeaf857214dcdb13b29b07a1f 

    For all who missed your great post entitled "Read-Alouds and The Large Family" - here is the link:

  18. Thanks so much Stacey,

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post! 

    Love your blog as well, that John Lennon quote was so timely! (Happiness is so underrated these days too). 

    Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: Stacey Loscalzo 

  19. Ha - fantastic post. I LOVE reading aloud to my two children even though they are getting older and can both read themselves. It is like sharing an experience together. My children now are very articulate with a wide vocabulary and I think reading to them has played a big part in this.

  20. I also love reading aloud.  When my 3 teens eventually quit listening to me, I'll have to go someplace and volunteer!

  21. My eldest of four children is now 18; my wife and I have been reading to them since they were toddlers.  Apart from innumerable children's books, we've read the Chronicles of Narnia through twice, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings three times; Charlotte's Web, The Rats of NIMH, The Wind in the Willows; A Wrinkle in Time; The Lamplighter (Maria Cummins); many others.  We're now working on George McDonald's "At the Back of the North Wind".  We still enjoy though time to do it is hard to come by these days.  As a side benefit, despite my love of Tolkien's works, I did not appreciate what a great wordsmith he was until I read LOTR out loud.  It begs for the cadence and rhythm of the spoken word.

  22. Hi Dana,

    Your comment put a big grin on my face! 

    My thoughts exactly. Its funny how reading aloud gets you hooked on books and stories and good language and exciting stories! 

    (Children's) books do wonders for one's brain, they make us better people.

    Congratulations on reading aloud to your three teens! Lucky, lucky kids to have a mom like you!

    Thanks so much for leaving a comment! 

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @8769800fe23ff4485241363e7df76afd  

  23. Wow docwatson55!

    I was bowled over by your comment! 

    Your first sentence alone is incredible: "My eldest of four children is now 18; my wife and I have been reading to them since they were toddlers." YOU are the real Read Aloud Dad here!

    What a great list of fabulous "read aloud" books you mentioned there! Oh, I can't wait for the day when we start reading them...

    I would love to publish a post penned by you on your family's read-aloud experiences (please do consider it) on this blog. There is nothing more inspiring than a great role model and you are certainly one. 

    Thanks so much for your fabulous comment. You made my day!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: docwatson55 

    PS If you have the time and want to take up my offer to write an inspiring post about reading aloud, based on your family's experience - please contact me by email (readalouddad at gmail dot com). Thanks! :-)

  24. Hi Julie! 

    Thanks so much for your comment! 

    Your words say it all. it is not so much about reading to children, but much more about LOVING reading aloud. 

    That type of parental love for books never goes unnoticed by kids and it is infectious, contagious, virulent! 

    Thanks for mentioning how your kids have a wide vocabulary these days - I am certain that reading aloud to them has made all the difference!

    Read Aloud Dad


  25. 4 of my 5 kids are grown but we still all get together for periodic read alouds. It never grows old.

  26. Hi Vicki!

    I love love love to read about great parents like you! You are such an inspiration. Four of your kids grown, but you still get around for a read-aloud periodically! Wow. 

    Congratulations on being such a great role-model!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: Vicki Tillman