High Up On the List of Good Things


The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction by Megan Cox Gurdon
Harper Collins, January 15, 2019

With an urgent desire for normalcy in a time that doesn’t provide for it, we look for possible answers to an almost impossible question: Can we make meaning, strengthen relationships, and build memories while we shelter in place for safety from COVID-19? The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction offers a modest proposal in a well-articulated, researched, and inspiring way. Author Megan Cox Gurdon writes a passionate defense of reading aloud in family groups, cozy twosomes, multi-generational clusters, and even those who have long been reading to themselves. While the book was published months before the world heard of COVID-19, it speaks now to a new normal that pervades almost every hour of the day. Referencing cognitive science and the results of ethnographic research, Gurdon highlights the mental health and wellness value of being read to. And she is realistic. It doesn’t need to be an hour – it can be the enchanted 15 minutes, if that’s what is available. It is an invitation to parents, and to teachers supporting the now-at-home-together family, to expand or to take up again the accessible, inexpensive, and invaluable intervention of reading aloud regularly. There are solid current and classic suggestion lists from wide cultural perspectives, but the highest value here is not, despite the subtitle, something miraculous. Rather, it is the timely reminder of a familiar truth: years from now, when we are asked what we remember about these days, the irreplaceable comfort of reading aloud and being read to from an unforgettable novel or picture book might well be high up on the list of good things.

Submitted By: Elizabeth Morley, Jackman Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

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