We had heard of some of the benefits of reading aloud to kids, but we were blown away by The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction.
This week we are joined by a writer extraordinaire- Meghan Cox Gurdon. Her writing gigs include a weekly column and children’s book reviews for the Wall Street Journal, which she has been doing for the past fifteen years, as well as her first book, The Enchanted Hour, which is all about kids and reading. She has read to her five children since the day she brought her first-born home from the hospital and now that her kids are almost all grown, she finds herself reading aloud with her husband during those hours that used to be filled with reading to their children.
In Reading: An Enchanting Hour we talk about
1. Reading aloud is an inexpensive, yet powerful way to give children what they need to develop their little brains when they are young.
2. Scientific evidence is now showing what parents have seen in their children for years- reading aloud creates conditions for optimal brain development, social skills, impulse control and more. Meghan connected with a research team that showed her their results from MRI scans of the brains of 3-5 year olds and the results they are finding are “everything that anecdote has suggested to us it would be.”
3. Meghan had some great thoughts about where digital books fall in the range of book vs screen-time scale. We all agreed to the many great benefits technology brings to our lives, but when it comes to reading with our kids, by using digital devices both us and our kids know that a distraction is just a finger swipe away, which can diminish the benefits of the experience for us and them.
4. One benefit of reading aloud with kids (especially those physical books) that we hadn’t talked about on our podcast yet that Meghan brought up was how it can build children’s attention spans. It allows them to “focus and concentrate and build their powers of attention.” Being able to focus on things and make sense of what is being said to them are absolutely necessary life skills that are strengthened by being read to.
5. While Megan’s book mainly focuses on young children, she is passionate about the benefits of reading to kids of all ages- and beyond! If your kids are middle schoolers and you’ve never read to them, that’s okay! Start now! Start today! Just give it a go- even if it feels odd at first. Stick with it and you will feel the magic!
6. While the benefits of reading aloud to older children and adults are different, they are still very real. There are studies that are starting to look into what it does for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, as they hear poems and stories they are familiar with. It can be a way to communicate with someone with whom communication is difficult, such as one suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, or even just a teenager with whom you are struggling to connect with.
7. Another idea to expand your reading aloud world is to read with your spouse. That idea might comfort those of us (coughJillcough) who are sad to think of the day when our kids get older and aren’t around to be read to!
Meghan left us with a great idea of how to get started on putting these great ideas into practice this week. She invited us to take the leap if we haven’t already and read out loud to someone we love- read whatever appeals to you, be it poetry or an article from the paper, but just do it! And after hearing of all the amazing benefits that come from it this week, we wholeheartedly agree with Meghan and echo her challenge.
We are so grateful to Meghan for taking the time to talk with us about the benefits of reading aloud and her book, The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction! More information about her, her book, and the amazing benefits of reading aloud to one another can be found in the following places:
In this episode we mention
Don’t miss our previous episode, Episode 15: “Holy Script!” Sacred Text in the Home