Most of us remember having stories read to us as children – by a parent, a teacher, an older sibling. Or maybe you're a parent yourself and love to read your own children a bed time story.
There is a wealth of research around the benefits of reading aloud to children, from improved literacy, memory, vocabulary and creativity to better listening skills and retention of information, and World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, and creates a community of readers taking action to show that everyone has a right to literacy. It is currently celebrated by people in more than 100 countries and its website offers materials for schools.
But it’s not just children who can benefit – and whether you’re a parent or child, male or female, young or old, reading aloud has something to offer. Research has shown that being read to makes us feel happier and healthier.
Liverpool-based charity The Reader aims to improve mental wellbeing by helping people with issues such as loneliness, isolation or inactivity through Shared Reading groups, as getting together to read aloud promotes a sense of belonging. The charity works with everyone from nursery schools to prisons to care homes, and offers a variety of courses and workshops enabling everyone to learn from the shared reading of great literature. Its findings make for interesting reading themselves:
- 74% of service users said shared reading has improved their mood
- 81% are more able to relax
- 72% felt shared reading had helped them to think about things in a different way
- 70% feel their group has helped them to understand people better
New book A Little, ALOUD with Love (Chatto & Windus, £12.99) edited by Angela Macmillan – who has worked at The Reader since it was founded – is the perfect anthology of prose and poetry for reading with someone special, and is the latest is the A Little, ALOUD series. All royalties from this book are being donated to the charity.