5 reasons why reading aloud isn’t just for children

Posted on March 26, 2018

I still read aloud to my 9-year-old daughter every night. It doesn’t matter that she’s devoured the Harry Potter series on her own at least 5 times. She loves the together-time and having me there to discuss the story or explain a difficult word.

But I have to admit … it’s not just for her benefit. Over the years, I’ve realized that reading aloud is as valuable to me as it is to her. Here are 5 reasons why I’ll be looking for excuses to continue the habit long after my daughter has grown up.

1. It improves your reading

The act of reading aloud forces you to slow down, focus and reflect on the content. If you let your mind wander, your audience will notice because you’ll stop reading. This greater awareness can make you more emotionally involved in the story. I recently surprised a friend’s children by bursting into tears while reading them Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb’s moving picture book The Paper Dolls. It’s not something that happens when I’m just skim-reading to myself.

2. It can develop your writing skills

If reading aloud makes you appreciate language, then it’s likely that becoming more aware of tone, diction, structure and narrative will also improve your writing. Professional authors have long known the benefits of reading their work aloud. In his Harvard Business Review article called “The Benefits of Speaking Aloud,” Jerry Weissman recommends recording the process. But even reading someone else’s text can make you critically aware of what works … and what doesn’t. Typical problems like awkward dialogue and poor punctuation can be solved by simply stating what’s on the page, revealing the rhythm and pauses of natural language.

And yes, I did read this blog post’s final draft aloud, and realized that it wasn’t the final draft after all. I identified far more corrections than I’d seen when simply skimming the content in my head.

3. It improves enunciation

I have a habit of speaking very quickly, while my husband tends to mumble. Regularly reading a story to someone else (and a critical little person, at that) has made us more aware of how we sound and how to ensure we are understood. We’ve both heard these benefits transfer to our everyday conversations. Our intonation is better, and we’re careful to add tone and emphasis to our voices. When we have to give a speech or presentation, we now know how we can get our message across most effectively.

4. It develops your study skills

When we read to ourselves, we say and hear the words in our head, which helps us to understand and remember them. Reading aloud increases this effect. Students and their teachers have long known the benefits of reading textbooks together. Repeating facts, and having the opportunity to discuss them, helps the knowledge sink in.

If you’re learning a new language, saying words or phrases out loud develops both pronunciation and comprehension skills. The Language Portal of Canada features a list of English second language resources and a list of French second language resources to help you with these skills.

5. It’s fun

Despite being rather shy in everyday life, I delight in using different voices and accents. It’s all the joy of acting without the terror of being onstage. I was never much of a Dr. Seuss fan when I was young, but I was hooked from the first time I read Green Eggs and Ham to my toddler.

If you don’t have a small child available, why not read to complete strangers? For example, LibriVox, a non-commercial, non-profit project, encourages volunteers to record their readings of books in the public domain, in any language, and releases them as free downloadable audiobooks.

Of course, you can always read to yourself. What better opportunity to really let go and take pleasure in the pure joy of words? You can’t be held back by shyness if there’s nobody else to hear. Try a little Gerard Manley Hopkins or Jacques Prévert or, if you’re not a poetry fan, see how dramatically you can read a cook book or instruction manual.

I’d love to hear about your experiences of reading aloud. In the meantime, you can find me trying to capture the perfect voice for Bellatrix Lestrange.


The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

Get to know Julia Sandford-Cooke

Julia Sandford-Cooke

Julia Sandford-Cooke is a writer, editor and general lover of language. She’s also a grumpy book reviewer, an Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders in the U.K., and a town councillor, all roles that sometimes involve reading aloud in funny voices.

You can read Julia’s book reviews on her blog, Ju’s reviews.


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Submitted by Nyna Gee on March 27, 2018, at 16:32

I thoroughly enjoyed Julia's Sandford-Cooke's post "5 reasons why reading aloud isn’t just for children". I've also discovered some of these wonderful benefits that come from reading materials aloud in various languages!

Submitted by Desmond Fisher on March 27, 2018, at 16:52

Wonderful post! I would also suggest reading Roald Dahl books aloud. The songs in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and, of course, Revolting Rhymes are incredibly fun to read.

Submitted by eduardomin on December 11, 2018, at 20:49

This article is very important because it shows the benefits of this important practice, as reading aloud is a fun way to kill time in your free time and also encourages people.

Submitted by Great on June 15, 2020, at 12:11

I really enjoyed this article, and it has taught me how to read books aloud. But the problem I am having is brain stress. I can't read books aloud for long periods of time if my aim is to read and comprehend.
Thank you very much!

Submitted by Karen Spracklin on June 16, 2020, at 10:40

Thank you for this article! The style is so accessible, and your message is important for readers of any target language.

Submitted by Elsle Kemp on June 16, 2020, at 15:18

I totally agree with all the points about the five reasons. I immigrated to Canada in the early 1960s when there was no ESL assistance. Luckily, I was still very young, so I did fine in school. However, my older siblings had quite a difficult time. I still struggle to enunciate occasionally and often say words in the wrong order when I'm excited or have too many thoughts in my head. Luckily, my friends understand me and find it endearing. I was very fortunate to develop a love of reading, mostly influenced by caring teachers. I passed this on to my children by starting to read and sing to them at the age of 10 months. Today, I am reading to a six year old—the same books I read to my own children!!

Submitted by Joan LeVasseur on January 12, 2021, at 13:30

When my English brother married a French girl, they had children who spoke French first. I bought English kid's books for them that I taped as I read, so that they would know English as well. They grew up so bilingual, one doesn't know which is their first language because they learned both at the same time. They are so fortunate. I wish I had had the same opportunity, as I speak French rather badly.