Published Author, Professional Storyteller & Writer, and Educator
Published Author, Professional Storyteller & Writer, and Educator
Published Author, Professional Storyteller & Writer, and Educator

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Reading Aloud is More Than Just Reading Words

Whether you're reading a story out loud that you or someone else wrote, there are certain elements you need to keep in mind.

First, you may wonder why you need to read out aloud at all! Parents, teachers, librarians, pastors, and public speakers are just a few of the people who read aloud to others. Parents, teachers and librarians are a given, since they usually deal with children. But pastors? Sure. When they read scriptures, or read their sermon notes, they need to be expressive. And the same goes for public speakers.

Here are some tips for reading aloud that will capture your audience.

  • GET READY - Prepare yourself by reading the material out loud to yourself so you're familiar with the words, pronunciations, vocabulary, etc. Make sure your area is free from distractions. Get in the mood of your material - is it sad? Funny? Somber? Scan the audience to make sure they are ready to listen (if not, wait until they are). Then, begin!
  • NOW READ - Put expression into your voice with inflections according to what's happening in the story. Vary your volume, rhythm, pattern and pace. Speak distinctly, but don't over pronounce. Use pauses effectively. Breathe easily. Be natural and read in a natural voice, unless you are using the voice of a character. Be enthusiastic and sincere. Occasionally look up from the book and make eye contact with the listeners. While reading, if it's possible, make appropriate gestures and facial expressions. Bring the story to life! Depending on your audience and situation, ask questions, refer to pictures and make predictions as you go along.
  • AFTER THE STORY - Ask specific questions related to the story. Let the listener relate to what happened and how the character felt to his own life. What part did the listener like best and why? Least? What part was the funniest? Scariest? Most exciting? What would the listener have done if in a similar situation? Sequence the story as a review. If appropriate, talk about what was learned from the story.

Studies have shown that comprehension and retention are stronger after hearing something that was read aloud, as opposed to just reading the material silently. So if you want to make sure your story or information is remembered, read aloud!

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