The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction by Meghan Cox Gurdon

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Publication Date: January 8th 2019

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I remember the first book I read to my husband: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I remember telling him about a book in which a character had once been a star and had given up her star life to save a planet from darkness. And then I asked if I could read that book aloud to him (we had been dating for a few months). He said yes, but I could tell the idea was a bit odd to him, but it was something I had dreamed of sharing with someone for years so he let me. Fast forward eight years and we’ve read two hundred and thirty books together (not including books we’ve read at the same time but separately or books we’ve recommended to each other). Reading together is a joy that neither one of us would ever consider giving up.

So reading The Enchanted Hour, especially aloud to my husband, was the definition of preaching to the choir, but sometimes it’s nice to be told you’re right. This was also the second nonfiction book he and I have read together and the first we can say we liked.

I wish there had been more about the importance of reading to adults with research to back it up. There wasn’t enough stress on how reading aloud to adults can help their mental acuity stay strong through the years. But in the author’s defense Gurdon did warn us in the beginning that this book was mainly about the benefits of reading aloud to children. It contained anecdotes from her own time with her children, but also said that reading together had petered out as the children became adults.

I think it’s important for adults to realize the importance of the spoken word as literature. All too often I hear people ask if an audiobook counts as reading. Really? Yes! It’s a book whose story you are learning whether that is by sight or by hearing. If anything having some books read aloud strengthens a different part of the brain and allows you to stretch yourself mentally. Variety is essential. Also, for many people with attention disorders audiobooks can hold their attention while they do something physical allowing them to read books they never could have read before.

The research included was astounding. I never realized exactly how much of a heads up reading aloud gives children.

The author admitted to not knowing exactly what positive effect reading aloud would have on unborn children, but stressed that it would help the parents grow comfortable with reading aloud and perhaps calm them as well which is never a bad thing with soon to be parents.

I definitely recommend The Enchanted Hour for parents and soon to be parents. I also think it’s important for everyone to realize the importance of reading aloud no matter what age they are. Absolutely worth the read for all readers who need a little more ammunition to explain why oral reading is important too.

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