Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Read Aloud

Most adults read silently to themselves. Reading aloud is generally reserved for bedtime stories and elementary school classrooms. Once children pass into young adulthood, reading often becomes a quiet, private experience.

In some situations, silent reading is certainly preferable – reading the latest best-seller out loud in a library or coffee shop might garner a few sidelong glances and raised eyebrows.

But private reading was not always the norm.  For centuries, reading was generally considered a community activity.  Works were read aloud in groups, sharing knowledge and binding community members to one another in public spaces.

Books were once a rarity.  Only the wealthy had access to printed materials.  Education was also a luxury of the upper classes.  In this environment, the only exposure to literature that most people could attain was hearing it read aloud.

With the rising availability of affordable books and the general populace’s increasing literacy, reading gradually became a private activity.  

Today, we think of reading as a peaceful respite for introverts curling up in their living rooms with a blanket, a cup of coffee, and a book.  But the act of reading aloud actually provides several benefits for adults as well as children:

  • Enhanced memory
  • Sharper focus
  • Increased vocabulary
  • Better reading comprehension
  • Interpersonal connection

While there is undoubtedly a time and place for private, silent reading, there are also multiple reasons why reading aloud can enhance cognitive abilities, sharpen verbal skills, and add enjoyment to the reading process.

The Effects of Reading Aloud on Memory

According to a study published in the journal Memory, participants retained a significantly larger amount of information when they read it out loud instead of reading it silently or hearing it read by someone else.

Reading aloud can enhance your muscle memory

The study hinges on the concept of production effect.  When a person reads a word and speaks it out loud, the term is mentally embedded through two processes rather than one, making it easier to retrieve.

The production effect is present in both children and adults, although it is more pronounced in children.

Reading aloud will help you retain the information if you are studying or learning a new language or concept.

Reading Out Loud Helps Maintain Focus

Another benefit of reading aloud is a sharpened focus on the reading material.  This technique is especially helpful for readers who struggle with a short attention span.

The act of silent reading is passive.  Information is presented visually, and the reader simply consumes it.

Reading out loud, on the other hand, involves activity on the reader’s part.  Instead of simply tracking the words on a page, the reader is actively vocalizing them.  This activity on the part of the reader often helps keep the reader engaged with the text.  

In addition to the active nature of reading aloud, the sound produced when reading aloud often drowns out distractions in the environment, reducing the chances that the reader will get sidetracked from the text.

Verbalizing Texts Increases Vocabulary

While any form of reading introduces readers to new words, reading aloud enhances this effect.

A comprehensive and varied vocabulary is desirable for several reasons.  Reading comprehension is increased by a large vocabulary, as is the ability to communicate effectively in writing and spoken conversation.

An extensive vocabulary is also useful in professional situations.  A broad command of the English language helps make a good impression in a job interview or company meeting.  It can also be helpful when constructing a convincing argument.

A vast vocabulary can works wonders.

When a reader vocalizes a new word in a text rather than just seeing it on the page or screen, not only is the reader more likely to remember the word in the future, s/he is also more likely to use the word in conversation.

Speaking a word aloud creates a sense of familiarity with the term.  Having said the word aloud once, the reader is more likely to feel comfortable using it and to incorporate it in future conversations organically.

Speaking a Text Aloud Improves Reading Comprehension

Another benefit of reading aloud is improved reading comprehension.  Reading a text out loud can help the reader understand the text for several reasons.

First, there are multiple types of learners.  An auditory learner will glean little from reading material silently.  On the other hand, reading it aloud increases the chances that the reader will understand the material.

Secondly, reading a text out loud requires the reader to slow down.  Reading out loud takes longer than reading silently.  This deceleration of the reading method can help the reader to process the information presented.

Finally, reading the material aloud encourages the reader to engage with the text.  Forming it into verbal expression connects the reader to the narrative or argument, increasing the likelihood that the reader will follow along mentally instead of just skating through the words on the page.

Reading Aloud Forges Social Connections

Not only can verbal reading improve cognitive and speaking abilities, but it can also serve a social function.  

Story-sharing is a communal practice as old as man.  People have always bonded over narratives.  Enjoying a good story as a group brings people closer and makes them feel connected over a shared interest.

Most children love being read to.  Although most people move away from the practice as they age, the joy of being regaled with an exciting tale is not limited to small tots.  

Patients in hospitals and residents in special care facilities often benefit mentally and physically from being read to by another person.  Even dogs in shelters react positively to verbal reading.

In the right circumstances, reading aloud provides a chance to bond with others and give joy to a group.

Read Aloud Today

It may feel strange at first, but reading aloud can provide multiple mental and psychological benefits.  Start by reading to yourself when you are alone.  As you progress, you will discover that the practice is enjoyable and makes you feel more connected to the material you choose to read.  Once you get the hang of it, try it with friends or family members. You may be surprised by how much they – and you – get out of it.

No time for Reading?

You can listen to your favorite books or podcasts with less hassle