When you think about reading aloud, you probably think of children, don’t you? Bed-time stories, perhaps, or reading to a group at school or play-group. But there are a growing number of adults in the UK who are rediscovering the joy of hearing a story read aloud.
The concept is called ‘shared reading’, and it replicates what previous generations took for granted: the experience of sitting together in a room or around a fire, listening to stories together. Over the years reading has become a solitary experience, but there are huge benefits to sharing it with others. Books read aloud take on another dimension – part literature, part performance – and so your interpretation of the story changes. For many people, particularly those with dyslexia or short attention spans, reading is hard work: providing ‘live audio’ means the listeners can enjoy the story without struggling or skipping sections. Like other group-based activities, shared reading builds social connections and and provides a supportive framework of like-minded people.
The Reader Organisation aims to enhance communities by providing shared reading experiences. The website is littered with testimonials showing how their work increases self-awareness, confidence and wellbeing, and offers some impressive statistics:
74% said shared reading had improved their mood
81% are more able to relax
72% felt shared reading had helped them think about things in a different way
To find out more about the work carried out by The Reader Organisation, take a look at their website. In the meantime, why not start some shared reading of your own? Read to a partner, or pair up with a friend to take turns to read aloud. If you live alone, try reading aloud to yourself, and consider how it changes the way you feel about the story, and about the language used. It’s a whole new experience.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin.