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Go and Enjoy: Read Aloud to Yourself

Posted By Connie Moody, Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Ezra read [the Law] aloud. . . and all the people [men and women—adults—who were able to understand] listened attentively. . . The priests read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read. . . ‘Go and enjoy. . . This day is holy to our Lord.  Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'”      Nehemiah 8:3-10


A supposed "triumph” in modern education is the early and complete transition from being read to to reading silently to oneself.  Once established as the preferred mode, silent reading is used all too frequently at the detriment of other aspects of developing the mind and character for which the gift of voice and the art of listening were designed.  As a result, many adults so trained by their own elementary educations have excellent reading fluency but are unable to understand and apply challenging (and sometimes even simple) texts because they automatically default to silent reading and try to read with understanding without having cultivated "ears to hear.”  Suffering thus, they recoil from the sounds of silence and cease to venture into the world of history, literature, and even the Holy Scriptures—the world of ideas, principles, and purposes—for the fruitless exercise of reading without understanding. 

Those who also have added difficulties due to processing disabilities or visual impairments often shy away from words on a page in a sense of self-preservation.  In addition to being early sequestered within their own minds by silent reading, many young readers are discouraged from using aids to follow the text.  Forced to remove their fingers from the lines of text and their bookmarks from the page too soon, many never develop the acuity to visually track the typeset further compounding their frustration with reading.  If it helps to add the kinetic support of gliding your finger along the lines of print, then by all means, do so.

Those familiar with the volumes of the Christian History Library published by FACE (Christian History of the Constitution, Teaching & Learning America’s Christian History, The Christian History of the American Revolution, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, etc.) know that these are not texts readily digested by a casual read—even by the best of readers.  Likewise, the classic novels and epics suggested in the Noah Plan Literature Curriculum Guide are often shunned as texts too long and difficult for students (and teachers), so abridged editions or other titles are proposed.  Our current political climate and sad economic condition have many pondering the need to revisit the texts that informed the minds of our Founders and to read what they wrote in defense of the republic, as well as other great records of history and liberty.  These do not come readily to the modern reader; The Federalist Papers, for instance, can pose a daunting task to read and understand.

How do we approach the lofty ideas, principles, and purposes inspired by the heart of God and crafted into words by so many writers throughout the centuries?  Why, Reading Aloud—to Yourself!

"As Horace Scudder writes, Reading Aloud is ‘stronger than iron in welding souls together.’”1 Reading Aloud not only binds individual souls together in a unity of ideas and character, it binds ideas of consequence to our hearts and equips us with internal understanding on which to act.  It builds our character, cultivates our conscience, and trains our mental faculties.  Reading Aloud employs all the senses to rouse the mental faculties causing them to work together to grasp the ideas and secure understanding.  Reading Aloud also develops us as storytellers able to excite emotions while conveying truths that will be cherished, remembered, and perpetuated in each generation.  These are reasons why we insist on reading literature aloud to students even in high school.

Bringing a text to life and its meaning to the forefront is also aided by knowing the author—his providential setting, spheres of influence, character, and contributions.  Who is he to tell this story, to make this declaration, to pen these words?  Reading an overview of the story or text is also helpful to help gain a general understanding of the "big picture” into which you will put the particulars of the details you read.  This prepares you to center your thoughts and focus on the purposeful targets of the text.  Books on the topic written for children or youth can supply this preview.  The summations of gifted commentators and modern translations also serve well.  Don’t think it cheating to read the end of chapter notes and summaries before reading the chapter.  And, Cliff’s Notes do have a place in preparing to read with understanding but should never become a substitute for reading the REAL story.

So as you are prompted by the Spirit to be restored to the truths revealed in His Word, to His principles manifest in documents of His-story, to His character portrayed in the lives of literary characters, and to His love conveyed in the lines of poetry, do not deny yourself these wonders—Go and enjoy!  Do not grieve but feed on the meat of the original sources, the full text, the unmodified language.  As a priest, like Ezra, mount the platform and Read Aloud to Yourself—for the joy of the Lord is your strength!


1 Slater, Rosalie J. A Family Program for Reading Aloud. Chesapeake, VA: FACE. 6.

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Tags:  history  literature  reading aloud 

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Comments on this post...

Adrienne B. Campuzano says...
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2012
These words brought Joy to my heart, I often will read aloud when I encounter a difficult passage!! I am pleasantly surprised at the curiosity it awakens in those around you who are within listening range!
Blessings to You!!
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Valerie Scott says...
Posted Thursday, April 26, 2012
Connie, I will never forget the day you casually taught me this in the HallSlater Library, as we were discussing the Federalist Papers, and how they were not meant to be read silently....I felt my heart glow as you enlightened my understanding on this principle as in the foregoing article. Thank you, I can still hear your voice!!
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Heidi Mize says...
Posted Monday, July 16, 2012
Thank you for this article. It is something to truly consider. How amazing it is how I just don't consider some of the simplest concepts, such as reading aloud to myself!!
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Alicia Ahlers says...
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Thank you for such a thoughtful article. Such a simple and ageless truth. I am enlightened and inspired to thus read aloud abundantly more!
Permalink to this Comment }

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