Today is the World Read Aloud Day! As you probably guessed it, it’s a date dedicated to sharing stories aloud with children, friends, adults, pets — everyone!
Reading aloud to children is extremely important. According to data collected by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, children that have someone read to them every day are a year ahead of children who don’t. Like children, many adults around the world — mostly women — don’t have literacy skills, meaning they can’t write or read. It is important to read aloud to them so that they can benefit from the numerous pros of reading.
The Lit World website is using this day to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter in the US, and they’re encouraging everyone to participate. If you want to be part of the discussion, post on social media using the hashtag #WorldReadAloudDay.
Because I am currently in Amsterdam visiting a friend (this is a scheduled post, so technically I’m sprawled out on my couch right now) I won’t participate in the discussion. Nevertheless, I still want to be a part of this day! So I have gathered in this post some bookish favorites of mine related to reading out loud — audiobooks and poetry readings.
The first thing that came to my mind when I thought about the World Read Aloud Day were audiobooks. What a surprise!
Audiobooks for a lot of people are a hit or miss — they have amassed lovers and haters since their broad commercialization. Personally, I quite like audiobooks — but only in some situations. They’re ideal to bring on long commutes, especially when there’s a lot of walking or changing lines/buses. When I find a good audiobook I will listen to it for two hours a day while I’m on the bus and metro. I think they are the best to make that time go by.
Because they can be quite expensive, I end up not listening to as many as I would like. Nevertheless, here are my favorite audiobooks and a link to Audible where you can purchase them.
Note: I do not make any profit from any of the links posted here.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Neil Gaiman
This is the only full audiobook I’ve heard narrated by Neil Gaiman, and I cannot speak more highly of it. The author knows his story the best, and Neil Gaiman’s cadence and accent make the reading experience of a terrific novel even better. The different voices he uses for each character suit them like a glove, and the creepy gothic music that plays in the background makes every even more spooky and exciting.
This book is about a young girl, Coraline, who moves into a new house with her family. She doesn’t like this new setting at all from the get-go, and when she goes exploring she starts finding odd, creepy things in hidden places. It is one of my favorite books, it was one of the first movies I watched at the cinema, and I will pass it on to my children. It is superb.
Bossypants by Tina Fey, narrated by Tina Fey
Another great audiobook narrated by its author. Tina Fey is a hilarious comedian, a great narrator, and every story she wrote in the book sound a hundred times better read by her. If you’re a fan of Thirty Rock, Saturday Night Live, or self-deprecating humor in general, do yourself a favor and pick up this audiobook!
Tina Fey is an extraordinary person I can’t get tired of. I chose to listen to this because I was one book away from my 2016 Goodreads reading challenge and had heard positive reviews. I was not prepared for the amount of laughing and wheezing I went through, and it wrapped up my year in a fantastic way. It was great listening to her talk about her rise to fame and the obstacles that stand in the way of women and acclaimed comedian status.
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling, narrated by Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry narrated all seven Harry Potter books published in the UK. There is a little of a quarrel between the US version and the UK version narrators, but I prefer Mr. Fry. His voice is so soothing and fits the story incredibly well. I can never resist a good British accent, and Stephen Fry’s RP gets me every time. Because I loved the Harry Potter books so much I knew I had to revisit them, and what better way than by hearing the story read out to me as if I were still a child?
Everyone has heard of Harry Potter, so there’s no need in writing a blurb for it. If you have never read the books and feel like you don’t have time to delve into a seven-book series, try Fry’s narration of the books.
Link to Audible: here
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Neil Gaiman
Yet again, another book written and narrated by Neil Gaiman. This was the first Neil Gaiman book I read and the first audiobook I listened to — and both versions are superb. Just like with Caroline, the plot is very creepy, and Neil Gaiman has done a fantastic job at modeling his voice to fit those parts. I have nothing else to say besides highly recommending it.
The novel follows a middle-aged man who, when returning to his childhood home, remembers the adventures he lived when he was seven years old. Mixing elements of supernatural and magical realism, this is a book definitely worth checking out. The plot is fast paced, the characters complex and interesting, and the events that happened during the man’s childhood embroiled in mystery. It’s a great, spooky read!
I love poetry, but I know this is not a genre most people reach for. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about poetry? Is it school? If so, you are not alone. School puts off a lot of people from enjoying poetry (and enjoying reading, overall). But this doesn’t have to be like this! Poetry readings can be fun when the reader knows what they’re doing!
There are plenty of poetry readings on Youtube — both bad and good, — which is why I decided to make a list of my favorite poems and leave a link to where you can hear it for free down below. I hope this can change your mind about poetry even if only a little bit.
“Acquainted with the Night” by Robert Frost, read by Tom O’Bedlam
This is a favorite of mine. The poem is brilliant, the reader’s voice is superb, and I can’t get enough of analysing the poem’s meaning. You can listen to the reading on Youtube here.
If you liked the reading, Tom O’Bedlam has many more recordings on Youtube of him reading poems. I recommend exploring on your own and finding personal favorites!
“Tulips” by Sylvia Plath, read by Sylvia Plath
Keeping with the sad theme, “Tulips” is my all-time favorite English-language poem. Not only does it portray depression and mental illness in a vivid way, it introduces the theme of wanting to live, even when life seems to be too dark.
You can listen to the author’s reading on Youtube here.
“Loving Like an Existencialist” by Savannah Brown, read by Savannah Brown
I couldn’t stop myself from including Savannah Brown’s poem here. I highly highly highly recommend watching her video, not just listening, because of the beautiful animations that accompany it. I was inspired by her poem to write one myself for a school contest and I got second place (still don’t know how!) “Loving Like an Existentialist” will always have a special place in my heart.
You can watch the video on Youtube here.
“OCD” by Neil Hilborn, read by Neil Hilborn
“OCD” is a powerful poem in of itself. But when you hear Neil Hilborn read it out loud with all his ticks and all his passion, it suddenly gets elevated to a whole different level. You can watch the reading at a stand-up poetry show on Youtube here.