The Magic of Reading Out Loud
Reading out stories is something that we tend to associate with children only. However, this can also be a great tool for adults to improve their mental capacity and ease some of the loneliness and anxiety they might be feeling.
For directors and filmmakers who tell stories on the big screen, nothing shows a loving relationship between a child and an adult more effectively than the sight of an elderly person reading out loud to a younger one.
Reading out loud to children is a magical experience brimming with love and imagination. The kids get a wonderful cognitive and socio-emotional boost, particularly during their early years when the brain is growing at a fast pace. In other words, reading in the early years can have a life-changing impact on the cognitive and personality development of children.
The Benefits Continue Into Adulthood
What many don’t realize is that the magic of reading out loud doesn’t fade away once you’ve grown up. Prior to this age of social media and electronic gadgets of all sorts providing constant screen exposure, reading to the sick and ailing was a fairly common phenomenon. For instance, Albert Einstein used to read the Greeks (Sophocles, Aeschylus, Empedocles, and Thucydides) out loud to his sister after she was bedridden due to a stroke.
Of course, Einstein was a different breed. Someone who was sensitive to the struggles of an active mind trapped in a body that was mostly earthbound. He believed that one of the strongest motives for pursuing art and science was the escape they afforded people from the grim realities of everyday life.
A Much-Needed Escape
In the same way, someone who is ill may need to escape the harsh truth which may be staring him in the face and telling him that the inevitable is almost upon him. There is a great example of this in The English Patient, the 1992 novel by Michael Ondaatje. The protagonist has got horrible burns on most parts of his body and is only active in the mind. However, the young Canadian nurse reading to him keeps making a mess of Kipling. That is when the English patient reminds her to read Kipling slowly, to watch where the commas are, and develop those natural pauses while reading.
This request from the English patient can be a good reminder for all of us that reading aloud has benefits for both the considerate and the impressionable. No one would want to hear a voice going on and on without any regard for the words or the listener. When done right, the experience of reading aloud is like a piece of art that the reader just pulls out of thin air and gives it to the listener as a gift. The beautiful language, the reader’s tone, appropriate pauses between words and sentences, and the warmth of the reader’s voice: all of them add to the aura, beauty, and mystery of the whole activity.
According to Research
In a survey carried out in the UK in 2010, adults who were a part of reading groups had better concentration in general, felt less agitation, and improved their general ability to socialize. Survey conductors credited these improvements to the rich, diverse, and non-prescriptive diet of proper literature that members of the group were able to consume.
Furthermore, researchers at Yale University found out that people who like to read generally love two years longer than people who don’t. Also, reading books tends to have a more protective effect compared to reading magazines and newspapers. The Yale research team explains that this is because books are better at engaging the mind of a reader. All in all, literature can be a very good tool to promote emotional intelligence, empathy, and better social perception.
The most fascinating aspect of reading out loud is, undoubtedly, its effect on people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In 2017, a group of clinicians from the University of Liverpool hinted at the huge potential for reading in general and reading out loud in particular. They were of the view that reading stuff together harnesses the power of reading. Also, it functions like a powerful and socially coalescing presence, which would give readers the sensations of shared and subjective experiences at once.
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