Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reading Out Loud

On Monday I mentioned that my thirteen-year-old daughter and I still read novels out loud together and that this seems to be a pretty weird thing -- most parents have long since given up reading aloud with their kids by age thirteen. But, as I also said on Monday, we enjoy it. In fact, we really love it. And my son read with us too until sometime after his fourteenth birthday. I've found there is something deep, meaningful, and powerful about reading written words out loud.

And as a writer, there is immeasurable value in reading my own writing out loud. I catch words and sentences that don't flow, ideas that don't fit, characters who are speaking out of voice, and just general icky-ness that I would miss if I only read the story inside my head. As a freelance editor, I encourage my clients all the time to read their work aloud, knowing they will hear word cadences that need rephrasing and all the other things (and more) that I listed above. Because, again, there is something deep, meaningful, and powerful about reading written words out loud.

What about you? Do you read your own writing out loud? Do you read the writing of others out loud?

20 comments:

  1. I do read out loud but probably not as much as I should. My mouth gets dry and I get tired and I start to mumble and before I know it I'm back in my head without even my lips moving. :)

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  2. That's great advice about reading your manuscript aloud. I don't do it enough either. And awesome that your 13-year old daughter has time to read with you. Mine was way too busy by then to consider and really was reading longer YA books by then.

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  3. Sometimes I do, but I'm lazy also. I always find errors though when reading aloud though.

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  4. Good for you! My mom never stopped reading aloud to us and we always loved it! Now my husband and I read aloud to each other in addition to reading aloud to our daughters (they're little, still) because it is such a different experience than just reading in one's head. And it DEFINITELY helps with writing.

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  5. Barbara, you are so lucky your 13-year-old still wants to read aloud with you. I have noticed, however, that when I'm reading with my 6-year-old, the 13-year-old wants to "hang out" with us. I wonder why...

    And, yes, I do read my own work out loud. As you have said, it is the best way to catch awkward words and phrases.

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  6. My daughter asked me recently how long she whould read aloud to her son who was ten at the time. I said, "As long as he will allow it. It's great bonding to read aloud together." They take turns reading to each other still. I love that. When I was teaching high school, I would often read aloud to my students. They loved it and would often ask me to do it. I have to admit I love reading aloud -- except my own work! Ack! I really do have to learn to do that more. It is really important. Good post, Barbara, as usual.

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  7. I totally agree, reading out loud is different than reading in your head, especially when it comes to your own writing. I catch so many things reading out loud, that are missed otherwise. Great post! :)

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  8. So glad to hear I'm not the only 'strange' one:-) I still read books out loud with my 8-yr-old and my 12-yr-old, separately and together. Once it gets cold enough here (usually about this time) until March, we have camp fire read alouds every Sunday night for 2 hrs and make s'mores. I blogged about the powerful bond/memories/life lessons this has created a bit ago. LOVE!

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  9. That's really great that you still read to your kids. I also read to my boys. They love it. And I also read my manuscripts out loud to hear what the story sounds like.

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  10. I've always found reading anything out loud gives me a different perspective of the work or passage. By doing so, I'm utilizing not just my eyes, but my ears and mouth as well. I love that!

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  11. Reading a manuscript aloud always shows me what needs fixing. I read aloud to my kids until they were about 13. The Dark is Rising sequence were the last books I remember reading aloud. My oldest wanted to wrench the books out of my hand and read them to himself because he could read so much faster!

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  12. I always read my stuff aloud. It's amazing the different when you do. I especially love isolating the dialogue and making sure it sounds authentic. They only way you can do that is by reading it aloud.

    My 12 year old reads A LOT fast than me, so I don't read to him anymore. I love reading to my 8 year old, and my hubby reads to our 10 year old.

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  13. Yes, yes, yes. I'm another weird writer who walks around in the living room reading her work when no one else is home!

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  14. I always read my manuscripts out loud. Lots of things I catch that way. My youngest son and I used to take turns reading from his books, it was fun.

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  15. I agree, reading out loud is a great way to help writing, especially for things like dialogue. If it's too awkward to read out loud, chances are it'll be too awkward for someone else to read!

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  16. I am a big fan of reading aloud! I read my own work aloud because it helps me to check the flow and I can edit better that way. As a 5th grade teacher, I read aloud to my students every day (it is their favorite part of the day). I learned so much about the importance of reading aloud books to kids and people of all ages and it stuck with me. I still love to listen to books being read to me! Happy reading!

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  17. I have never read my work outloud. Not that I think this is a good thing...

    I do read queries and the summary on the back of my book out loud though :) haha

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  18. I do that with my kids sometimes, and it's amazing how different the book can sound!

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  19. What a great tradition to read longer books (not just picture books)aloud with your daughter. I read my own stuff aloud, and some other books that have great rhythm.

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  20. I don't read out loud as much anymore -- mostly because I've discovered some favorite book on tape voice artists who do characters so well, I'd much prefer to hear them!!

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