Most won’t argue about the power of a good book. A book can make us laugh or cry. It can make us angry over injustices in our world. It can whisk us away to places we’ve never been. Or it can keep us in suspense, page after page after page. Everyone knows all that, but what many people don’t know, or what we sometimes forget, is how much more powerful a book can be when it’s read aloud.
Many of us remember afternoons in elementary school listening to our teachers read to us. No matter how many years ago elementary school may have been, some of us still remember specific books our teachers read. One of the reasons why we remember is because books read aloud are powerful.
Books capture our hearts and souls in a different way when we hear them read aloud. We don’t just hear the words for what they mean, but we also hear them for how they sound. Authors spend lots of time choosing just the right words to tell their stories. These words are chosen because of what they mean and also because of how they sound, and when we read books aloud, we get to experience the author’s language choices to their fullest.
When I was a classroom teacher and a school librarian, reading to my students was one of my favorite times of the day. No matter what kind of day my students and I were having, each time I opened that book to read aloud, it was like an oasis for all of us. It felt like rest in the shade on a hot day or a chance to huddle under an umbrella during a sudden summer shower. The story allowed us to be someone else for a few minutes or to take a short trip to a place we had never been. And the act of hearing the story aloud made it even more magical. What could be more powerful than that?
The fictitious worlds of books are created first by words being written; and then when those words are read by someone, that world is experienced; and when those words are read aloud, it seems that we experience that world in an even more powerful way.
In our fast-paced world, where information is accessed instantly and technology causes conversation to often be silent and cryptic, just the act of reading a book at all, let alone reading one aloud, can seem somewhat antiquated. But, I hope that we won’t forget the power of slowing down, not just to read a book, but to read a book aloud in order to experience the power within the pages when the words are spoken out loud.
You don’t have to be a kid in elementary school to listen to a book read aloud. You don’t have to be the parent of a preschooler to read aloud. Though it’s wonderful to read aloud to someone or be read to by someone, the fact is, all you really need is your own voice letting the words an author so painstakingly chose to tell a story be spoken out loud. When the sounds of the language are spoken and heard and your heart fills up with the emotion of the story, you’ll know firsthand, the power of a book when it is read aloud. You might be surprised how powerful that can be!
About the Author
Nancy J. Cavanaugh lives in Florida with her husband and daughter. She spends summers eating pizza in her former hometown of Chicago. Always, Abigail is her second middle grade novel. Her debut, This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, earned a Kirkus star – “A book that is full of surprises . . . Triumphant enough to make readers cheer; touching enough to make them cry.” This Journal Belongs to Ratchet also won a gold medal in the Florida State Book Awards.
Like Abigail, Nancy enjoys writing lists. Her secret to turning an unproductive day into one she can feel proud of is writing a few things on her “To Do” list which she has already accomplished just so that she can cross them out.
In the past, Nancy’s lists helped her stay organized as an elementary and middle school teacher and also a library media specialist. Presently her lists help her organize her life as a writer. Nancy enjoys doing school visits and writing workshops as well as sharing teaching ideas with librarians and teachers at conferences. Visit her at www.NancyJCavanaugh.com for more information.
By Nancy J. Cavanaugh
Abigail dreams of being a pom-pom girl, but when sixth grade doesn’t turn out the way she planned, she finds herself having to choose between the little bit of popularity she has left or risking it all to be a true friend.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky | Aug. 5, 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-1402293030
By Nancy J. Cavanaugh
This Journal Belongs to Ratchet is the story of one eleven-year-old’s quest to make a friend, save a park, and find her own definition of normal. Ratchet tells her story through the assignments in her homeschool language arts journal.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky | May 6, 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-1492601098