Reading Out Loud

What follows is the text of a speech I wrote and delivered as the final assignment in my Public Expression class. It’s written to a specific and highly formalized structure called Monroe’s motivated sequence, and was intended to be a call-to-action speech. I don’t know how it worked on that audience, but it amuses me to share the text with you all. Reading aloud offers special benefits to writers. By reading a story you can develop a much smoother rhythm to the dialogue, the flow of the story, and I highly recommend it if you can. 


The Art and Gift of Reading Aloud

A simple way to deepen your relationships and help your children succeed in life. Can you imagine one thing with the power to enhance mental capacity, boost your offspring to better lives, and keep your loved ones close? Reading aloud will do all those things, and it takes no more than a little time and trust.

In our modern culture, families are scattered and even when together, the TV, phones, or computers consume all their attention, even weakening their mind, according to Psychology Today.  According to the Department of Justice, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” Amanda Craig, in the Times, writes that until recently, with the advent of the television, reading aloud was a common family practice.

Marriages and relationships also suffer from lack of intimacy – not sex, but close contact in loving and playful fashion. As many in my audience are young, I will say this: begin as you mean to go on as parents, and as spouses.

Reading aloud to one another can deepen or mend relationships and enhance a child’s ability to learn, in addition to fostering a stronger mind in the reader. In the Handbook of Structured Techniques in Marriage and Family Therapy, it is pointed out that by agreeing on when and what to read, positive cooperation between partners is fostered, and trustful communication is facilitated. When you read to a child, MIT says in their Textual Tinkerability book, you promote critical thinking, questioning through dialog, and thoughtful conversation. Shared reading is “one of the most important activities parents can do to prepare their children for school.” When I was growing up, my mother read aloud to us every day. I learned how to read very early, and as I got older, my sisters and I would read aloud as well to the family. We were very successful in school and have precious memories of this family time.

You may have concerns. You might feel self-conscious about reading aloud: bestselling children’s author Francesca Simon says “A lot of people are very self-conscious about how to read. My husband had dyslexia, and it was always a source of anxiety, but doing it year after year he became fluent.” You might not think you have time in your busy schedule for reading. According to, the average American spent 734 minutes per day in media consumption. Television, internet, and others. Surely you can find 30 minutes to give as a gift to your loved ones?

With reading aloud, you could have a family with deeper bonds, a couple with shared interests, engagement, and quality time spent building intimacy. You can have children doing better in school and ultimately in life.  With a modern rushed life that impacts family ties, this is a way to bind those loose ties, and enhance your children’s education. Did I also mention that according to the Journal of Gerontology, reading aloud improves your own cognitive abilities and can ward off dementia? Start reading aloud now, and set a habit that can last you a lifetime.

Take time today to read out loud. Even a few minutes at first will help. Go home and talk to your partner, even read to your pets, and then trust them when you feel self-conscious not to laugh. Read often, and make it habit by doing it for 27 days in a row.

Step out of your comfort zone, take a risk, read out loud and proud!

You can if you want see this speech here, although I will warn you it’s a poor quality recording. 

On another topic entirely, I’m on Summer Vacation. This means that I am preparing for the wedding, trying to write (my brain is slooowly thawing out after the end of school), and that I am back in business for cover design and layout. If you are looking for a new book cover, or a re-working of one, send me an email. For the commentators, if you want a critique or hands-on help with DIY covers, ask and we can either do it in comments or if you’re not that brave (and I don’t blame you) via emails.

Here’s the latest cover I created for a friend and talented writer David Burkhead.

trevas children

20 thoughts on “Reading Out Loud

  1. Cedar,
    Personally, I find that cover very attractive, but I’m not sure what message it’s trying to tell me. Suppose I’ll just have to buy David’s book and see.
    I’d encourage you to do an entire article on how that cover came about. Not the mechanics of creating the art, but more your thought process, choices you made, and your intent for the final product.

    1. Not a bad idea, it was a simple cover done quickly since David needed it. That and my brain has been wonky since finals so I was later getting to it than I could have been.

  2. One of my dearest memories is reading to the kids, beginning with _Mr Brown Can Moo_, which practically wore out through the years. And one of their fondest memories is putting _Fox in Socks_ and _Oh Say Can You Say?_ in Daddy’s hands and laughing as he stumbled through the tongue-twisters. Of course, the reading aloud continued beyond Dr Seuss as they got older, beyond the point where they could read for themselves, but it was those earliest memories that are the most precious.

    Yes, it helps learning and cultivating a joy of reading. But it’s so much more. It was making memories that will last beyond a lifetime as one day they take their grandchildren into their laps and read to them, maybe their own copy of _Mr Brown Can Moo,_ and remember those days when they, too, were small, and Mama and Daddy read to them.

    That’s something you can’t buy with all the money in the world.

    1. I read many books to my kids, and delighted in discovering the Skippy Jon Jones books about a siamese kitten who is convinced he is a chihuahua. Hilarious, and fantastic for reading aloud.

      As we girls got older, we would read aloud in turns, we went through the Five LIttle Peppers, the Borrowers, Little Women, Swiss Family Robinson…

  3. I’ve got to say, Cedar, that is an awesome cover–better than the ones I’ve been able to put together for myself (although I think I’ve been getting better 😉 ).

    It remains a habit for me to read aloud to Athena at bedtime. Lately, she’s been “pushing” bedtime and i often tired enough that she just wants to go straight to sleep so it doesn’t always happen but it’s still the plan. We went through the Heinlein juveniles that way. We went through Eric Flint’s 1632 and 1633 (had to elide over a couple of parts but for the most part….). We went through Sarah’s Darkships books. And now we’re going through your Noir books.

    Not only does it serve the purpose of inspiring her interest in good stories, in reading so that she basically pegs the “reading level” assessments she takes at school, but it’s about the best daddy/daughter bonding exercise around.

  4. I may have mentioned before, but one of my most treasured memories is of my dad reading me The Lord of The Rings as a bedtime story, maybe a chapter every night, And I’d be leaning against his chest listening to the rumblings of the words as he read about Tom Bombadil.

  5. BTW, dunno how many folks pay attention to this stuff, but apparently Maggie Hogarth (“Spots the Space Marine” and member of the committee that made the new Indie rules) got elected as the VP of the SFWA. Cat Rambo is the new President.

    I have no idea what that means….

    1. It means that Maggie has a lot of work cut out for her ahead, if she’s going to try to rescue SFWA from its legacy of inanity and insanity, but she’s willing to try.

      Good luck to her!

  6. Hi. I’ve been lurking and reading for a while, but this subject, reading aloud is very important to me, do I thought I’d comment. As a school librarian, I can tell the students who come from reading homes. As a parent, I and my husband kept our dyslexic/dysgraphic/ADD son on grade level by reading to him. I would like to mention that children’s listening comprehension is usually three grades ahead of their reading comprehension. So when you read to your children do not be afraid to tackle longer, harder books. Now, certain subject matter may be a bit, shall we say, intense, but you know your child best. Also, if you are shy about reading yourself, try an audio book. You can listen together. (For honesty’s sake, I should mention that I volunteer with an audio drama group, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company. Catch our show at LibertyCon.)

      1. Wonderful. We would love to have you. We will be doing an adaptation of Frankenstein this year.

  7. My folks made the mistake of reading Uncle Remus to Sib and I. With the proper accent. Ever after, we demanded ‘Brer Rabbit in dialect and would not let them rest until they did it “right.” We also got all the Old Mother Westwind stories, the Colored Fairy books (Lang), Mother Goose, Kipling, and other such.

  8. Sings: “Read to your bunny often; it’s 20 minutes of fun.
    Twenty minutes in the moonlight; twenty minutes in the sun.
    It’s 20 minutes old fay-vorites, an 20 minutes brand new.
    O! If you read to your bunny often, then your bunny will read to you.”

    Good luck singing with her though, once she gets old enough to tell you, “Mommy, please stop. You’re hurting my ears.” say, 4 or so 🙂

  9. I used to read to my daughter nightly, or close to it. When her mother and I divorced, I checked children’s books out of the library, read the stories into a cassette recorder, and mailed her the cassettes.

    She’s now in her late 20s, and still has those cassettes, but I don’t know if she still has any way of playing them.

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