"The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences."
If you were lucky, an adult in your life read aloud to you when you were young. Reading to a child is a wonderful way to stimulate his or her imagination, improve reading comprehension and verbal skills, and create a sense of safety and connection. One reason adults read to children before bedtime is to calm and soothe; it’s a wonderful prelude to sleep.
The positive effects of reading aloud don’t just extend to children. Adults experience the same benefits, including a deep feeling of intimacy. As a child, I would listen with one ear as my parents read to each other in evening. Afterward they often shared thoughts and ideas that the reading evoked in them. I was too young to understand the content the books or their discussions; but I could sense how the exchange brought them closer together, and that gave me a deep feeling of security.
So reading aloud isn’t just for kids. After a stressful day it is tempting just to brush our teeth and collapse into bed. Sharing a reading – even just a brief poem – with a spouse can be a way to a sweet way to reconnect and transition to sleep.
Over the course of many months, my partner and I read to each other “The Odyssey” by the Greek poet, Homer. It was a marathon of sorts, but well worth it. Lately our conflicting schedules don’t permit extended reading, but a few nights a week we randomly choose a poem from a favorite collection, or a passage from a spiritual text.
Reading aloud isn’t just something to do with a spouse. You can share readings with friends and other family members – and not just at bedtime. If this appeals to you, give it a try. No need to make it a project, just have a favorite book on your night table, or by a comfortable chair, and it will call out to you.