Apparently, 1st February was World Read Aloud Day. No, I didn’t know either, it completely passed me by…I suppose they weren’t loud enough.
I’m not a scientist, but I conducted a Reading Aloud experiment this morning. Read on to find out more.
Picture the typical scene: it’s 6:30 am on a weekday; my wife has just left to go to work, and my two boys (four and seven) have been up since six, playing with Lego in the living room. I am on the sofa in my dressing gown, wishing I had an extra hour or two of sleep.
In my hands I’m holding a copy of the book The Iron Man by Ted Hughes.
I had planned to sit and read it by myself, while the boys played before it’d be time to go and have breakfast and start the whole getting-ready-for-school routine.
But on the spur of the moment I decided I would read the book aloud, regardless of whether the boys wanted to listen to it or not. I was reading it for my own pleasure, after all, not necessarily theirs.
The sound of my own voice
When I first started reading, they stopped what they were doing, and asked me why I was reading it “too loud”. I told them I was reading it for me, but they could listen if they wanted.
They both carried on playing with Lego, with the four year old jabbering away to himself, lost in his own world of characters.
I felt a bit silly at first, reading it out loud to myself, but carried on, trying to ignore all the other noise.
The four year old intermittently leapt onto the sofa beside me to look at the pictures in the book or to ask me questions about what was happening in the story, while the seven year old quietly carried on playing with Lego, occasionally glancing in my direction.
I didn’t really know if either of them were paying attention, but I carried on reading aloud, until suddenly, it was 7:30 and I’d finished the whole book (it’s only 60 pages).
When I stopped reading, the seven year old came over and showed me what he’d been making; he’d built a Lego model of the Iron Man.
He had even included car headlights as the Iron Man’s eyes, just as explicitly described in the book.
You see, he had been listening all along, to the whole story, even though I thought he’d tuned me out. The four year old had been listening too, despite appearing to be lost in his own play.
We talked about the story during our walk to school, they were able to recap bits of it, and the boys asked if Mummy could read it to them again later.
What I learned this morning:
reading aloud isn’t hard work
the kids really are listening, even when you think they’re not