Read to Me

I was in contact with two elderly friends last week. Both are the same age, both are underweight, both have a vision problem that means they cannot read.  One misses newspapers more than anything. The other misses reading piano music.

One is quite robust, despite her tiny size. She works out for an hour every morning and insists on walking everywhere, even though she can’t see the pavement under her feet. The other is extremely frail and requires help to move from bed to chair and back again.

Both have found solace in the spoken word. One listens to audio books while doing her workout. She says twenty minutes just flies by when there’s a good story playing through your earpiece. She has just discovered , Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell. The audio version takes about twenty hours, as compared to the usual ten hours for most books, but my friend finds the writing and the reading so engaging she’s happy to keep listening. In fact, she plans to look for more of this author’s books in audio form.

The other has a volunteer who sits with her one afternoon a week and reads aloud from a paper book. They are about to start , The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough, another tome.

What struck me about these two ladies, apart from their similarity in age and vision impairment, is their joy in listening to a story. Note, even the news junkie would rather have a story playing on her device than a newspaper article.

There’s something wonderful about being read to. In my day, a bedtime story was a requirement from every parent to every child. Even when I could read for myself, my brothers and I loved gathering in the living room of an evening and listening to our mother read aloud. We had stories from the Family Herald, books by Thornton W. Burgess, Bible stories, Mother Goose tales, Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables, and my mother’s voice.

From listening to my two friends, I realize that we never outgrow that “read me a story” stage.

My Mom didn’t do funny voices, but she read at a pleasing pace, in a clear voice and loved the story. Other parents excelled at “voices” when telling bedtime stories. I had a cousin who could “tell” stories as she made them up.

Some authors read their own work for audio books, others hire voice actors. Whatever the method, it seems “read me a story,” is a universal desire that technology has expanded but cannot displace. Three cheers for those who still read aloud to their children – or grandparents – and congratulations to the techies who figured out that we all want to “hear” a story.

What about you? Do you want to listen to a story? Do you prefer live readers or digital versions? Do you ever consider reading your own work aloud to an audience?

Leave a comment and receive a copy of my latest Christmas short story.

Views: 403


  1. Jhommie

    Hello, well I like audiobooks, because if I need to do something and really finish the book on time I multi task, or some days I’m just lazy I listen instead of reading. Although having someone to read aloud for you is fun, I don’t want them to be tired or anything so audiobooks are great.

    • Alice Valdal

      I remember when my mom listened to soap operas on the radio while doing her housework. Audio books provide almost the same experience, except I doubt there’s as much “Oh John,” “O Marcia,” in them. 🙂

  2. Gail Henderson

    My husband is legally blind. I read to him 3 times a week. That’s his decision on when he wants to listen to me. He even let’s me read him my romance novels. He doesn’t care what the subject is as long as its me reading to him.

    • Alice Valdal

      Thanks for sharing that, Gail. How lovely that your husband enjoys the sound of your voice, whatever the content of the novel. Best to you both.

  3. MaryEllen Cox

    I have ADD and find that my mind wanders if I’m just listening to a story.

    Our son loved having his dad read him to sleep every night until he was 11yo. (Schedules at home changed and we quit that routine, but he probably would have loved to continue it.) He, cannot listen to audio books now, though, without his mind wandering away from the story.

    Our daughter has NEVER liked being read to. We tried several times at different ages and it would just make her cry. She did, however, teach herself to read at 3yo, and is still an avid reader at 17yo.

    Both kids also have ADHD.

    • Alice Valdal

      Interesting. Just goes to show each of us is different, even children in the same family with the same syndrome. Empathy anyone? Glad your little girl taught herself to read, so she can still enjoy the stories.

  4. Nancy Schreib

    I had read to my children and my younger siblings back then.

    • Alice Valdal

      You must be the oldest in the family. 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

  5. Debbie

    I read to my children every night for many years until I went back to college and night classes took that time away. Those are still some of my most precious memories.Each child would choose a story, and I would choose one then we would cuddle up on the bed and read. My daughter invariably picked the same book every night, and she eventually would be able to recite the repetative parts with me and eventually she could recite the entire book to me and turn the pages, although sometimes the book was upside down. Lol!! As a grandmother I have read to all 6 of my grandchildren and enjoyed cuddling with them while we read. Like other readers I have ADHD and my mind wanders on an audio, but not so bad that I won’t be able to do it in the future if my sight fails. I love doing. Digital books because it makes reading easier as I can adjust the print size, immediately look up words I am not familiar with, adjust the font, and the page color. Also I can read in bed in low light, no flashlight needed! Lol! I read 3 to 5 books per week this way!!

  6. Toni Griffin

    I enjoyed being read to by my mother and enjoyed reading to my son and now my granddaughter. It’s her favorite part of our weekly sleepovers. I have found it fun to listen to audio books while driving on long (12 hours) trips. But most of all, I love reading!

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