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Reading Aloud: How, With Whom and Why

Reading Aloud: How, With Whom and Why
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Palina Dolia

Remote work, self-isolation and other "pleasures" of modern life sometimes make you feel disconnected from society. There is only you and the walls of your apartment. Do you feel like the last person on the planet? Are you losing touch with family, friends and reality? We have one fun way to get you back on the ground – with the help of books, of course. Or rather, with a way to absorb them. Stretch your vocal cords: it's time to talk about reading aloud!

Yes, reading aloud is that simple. Contrary to popular belief, this is not only an activity for parents whose children have not yet learned to associate letters with sounds. People of any age can read aloud! And not only for others but also for themselves.

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Why read?

It was difficult to concentrate on reading for many the past year; reading news was exception though, while books continued to gather dust on the shelves. The disturbing environment in the world does not help to concentre, and as a result, even good books are perceived as through a veil. They are not emotionally touching, and it breaks readers' hearts.

However, there is a great way to focus on reading and dispel the fog of uncertainty – reading the book aloud. This is far from the listening to an audiobook. While listening, it is easy to catch on to any word, switch off, and think about stuff... Therefore, instead of following the plot, you are start to muse about the difference between chops and meatballs or hum an addicting song from an advertisement. Basically, you think about everything except the book itself. In contrast, reading aloud requires maximum concentration. Yes, it may seem that it can take too long – but it is an unusual experience and maximum immersion in a story. After all, quality is more important than the amount you read, isn't it? It is better to spend a few weeks on the book, but to feel every line than to swallow the story in three days and to remember nothing after.

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Who to read with?

If you live with someone, then you probably wanted to share your love for books with them at least once. In addition, reading aloud seems like a nice, even idealistic leisure activity for the whole family. If we could gather at the fireplace for that matter, make cocoa, and here it is – an impeccable evening of family unity. If there's no fireplace, the sound of crackling fire will do.

Do you live apart from your family, but still want to share your reading marathon with someone who understands? Gather friends in a virtual book club and at the end of the pandemic translate it into real life. Reading in a group allows you to do what you love without feeling detached. And you can immediately discuss the most controversial parts, collectively cry over the fate of the characters or, on the contrary, feel joy over a happy ending.

Another option, which is oftentimes ignored, is reading aloud alone. You want to leave some books exclusively to yourself because they are too personal. Or maybe you're just looking for a way to focus better on the text – in this case reading aloud is also a great option. At the same time, you will practice acting and diction. When you're alone, you can finally let yourself go and make faces without any embarrassment. There is no wrong way to read aloud.

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What to read?

Of course, there is no universal answer to this question. Read what your heart tells you – and the hearts of your friends, if you have formed a spontaneous book club. After all, each of us has huge lists of books that we have long planned to read, but each time kept on ice. Surely at least one position in your list will coincide! It's time to blow the dust off long-purchased, but still unread books.

Are you looking for something to read aloud for yourself? Take a look at this list again. Or read the selections of books on the website of the National Library: within the framework of BelBookChallenge, we post selections of books for all tastes. Don't forget to look at "The Author's Point of View": among the selections of books about librarians, North Korea, or even haunted houses, surely, there is a story that sinks into your heart at first sight. If you can't decide which book to start reading out loud, put your trust in the National Library.

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How to read?

We're getting closer to the most interesting. Reading aloud is a truly creative process, and it becomes even more extravagant when you drop off your shyness and explore your acting skills. However, at first, it is more comfortable to read in such a manner alone. Open any expressive dialogue – and you'll immediately understand how much fun it is and how much you have missed during the years of silent reading. Characters in the book will speak in different voices, tones and timbres, and they are all yours! Isn't it an exciting reader's experience?

A new level is reading plays aloud. We have already written about the plays, but today we will mention them in a new way. Surely, you've seen at least one pandemic reunion of actors of your favourite movies and TV series: they sit in front of their computer screens, call by video link and role play, as in the good old days. So why don't you get together with your friends and do the same thing? Choose a play, share roles and feel like real artists. It's also a great way to look at the story from a new perspective – especially if you get the role of the main villain.

Another important aspect of reading aloud: everything that touches you can be discussed almost immediately. Have you noticed an unusual detail of the scene? Go on and discuss it! You do not need to wait for the end of the meeting of your book club to convulsively remember what caught your attention and what you wanted to tell the others. You have complete control over the tempo of the narrative. Take the most out of it.

Throw away all your embarrassment and ostentatious "maturity." Reading aloud is not only for preschoolers. This activity is also for you, a serious reader, and your friends, parents, grandparents. And even pets – do you need grateful listeners?

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