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.