Reading Aloud: How Old is Too Old?

Saturday, October 18, 2008.

Reading AloudOn this edition of Just One More Book!! we ask the question “Reading aloud: how old is too old?”

Be sure to share your thoughts on this topic by leaving a voice message on our listener hotline, +1.267.350.6487, or leave a comment on this post.

HOTLINE VOICES: Melissa of Stirrup Queens tells us about her favourite book, The Phantom Tollbooth, and the impact that its author Norton Juster has had on her.

Fabulous read-aloud pictured: Stella, Unleashed!

Filed under: Discussions,Podcast


Comment by charlotte

October 18, 2008 @ 8:44 pm

I don’t think anyone is ever too old to be read out loud to! My father read out loud to my mother and my sisters and me when I was in my teens (way back in the 1980s), mainly Victorian classics, and it was rather a nice way for us all to spend the winter evenings together…

But we were willing to be read to, which I guess is the crucial factor.

Comment by Grace

October 18, 2008 @ 8:48 pm

I have four children, 24 – 8. And the answer so far is never. When my eldest comes home for a visit she can’t wait till bedtime I can start reading to everyone. And my 16 yo works very hard to get all her work done so she can have story time. In the past reading aloud had no ending time. Whole families truly enjoyed this time together. So if you like it and your kids like being read to then why stop?

Comment by eiela

October 18, 2008 @ 9:36 pm

You’re never too old to be read aloud to. Why do you think audiobooks are so popular? Plus, I love hearing my husband read aloud.

Comment by amber of theambershow

October 19, 2008 @ 1:49 am

Ditto above: you’re never too old to gather round and hear a story!

Comment by Just One More Book!!

October 19, 2008 @ 7:39 am

Charlotte, Grace, Eiela & Amber,

Thanks for your sharing your Never-too-old opinions. That is music to our ears!

Comment by Sara

October 19, 2008 @ 8:38 pm

I hope the resounding answer to this is “Never”, as it appears to be in these comments!

Comment by Ellen

October 20, 2008 @ 2:32 pm

The answer is NEVER.
It’s why we as adults listen to radio shows and stories on tape or CD.
I recently was afforded an opportunity to listen to my sister-in-law read a story to the youngest members of our extended family, aged 3 and 4. But right beside her, just as entralled as the little ones, was her then 22 year old son, a medical student. “I love this story,” he said when “Make Way for ducklings” was all done.
My Dad used to read to my brothers and I when we were young, and among his favourite books, and the one we all have fond memories of listening to is “The Adventures of Nils.”
Funny how this kind of family intimacy has been replaced by ‘family time’ in front of the television.

Perhaps, the other question you need to ask is, how old do you need to be to have stories read to you? I propose that it be One Day Old, which is what my younger son was. By osmosis, he listened to stories being read to his older brother, while lying in a basinet, and to this day(he now being 12), he is my voracious reader and story teller. He plans to be a writer when he grows up. and he still loves it when I read stories to him before bed.

Comment by Just One More Book!!

October 20, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

Thanks, Ellen!

I agree completely. We read to ours both in vitro and kept right at it as soon as they popped out. We didn’t ask the “when to start” question because I think there’s a lot of evidence to show that this is the way to go and, secondly, newborns and not-yet-borns can’t object to us reading to them!

Comment by Christina Rodriguez

October 20, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

I have to agree with everybody else here and say that you’re never too old to be read aloud to, nor are you ever too young to read aloud to others! Some of my fondest memories from childhood were of reading aloud to my parents.

Comment by Dreamybee

October 20, 2008 @ 7:58 pm

I agree with everyone above-you’re never too old! My mom used to always read to me in the mornings before school as I was eating breakfast. I don’t remember when that stopped-I guess it was when I discovered “sleeping in”! In school, our 4th-grade teacher used to read aloud to us. I don’t remember what she read, but I remember looking forward to it. My brother-in-law and his wife, who are in their 50s/60s still read aloud to each other at bed time.

I think reading together provides a sense of security-you’re in a close, intimate setting with someone you love (in most instances), and everything is ok enough that you can let your guard down, relax, and let your mind wander to somewhere else.

Comment by alicia padron

October 22, 2008 @ 9:44 am

I really enjoyed this podcast guys! I like that brought this up. I’ve been reading to my kids since they were 4 months old. Every single night we read and they love it.

Now they are are 10 and 7 years old. They both love to read. My oldest devours books, he is reading Harry Potter 5 at the moment, he of course, reads on his own. My youngest is learning to read in spanish and english at the same time, so I’m usually there helping her out but she can’t wait till she can read on her own like her brother.

I think, as parents, is important to find a balance so kids are happy reading on their own but also enjoy being read as well. It is definitely a different experience when you are being read to, somehow makes us feel connected in the same story which I find very valuable. :o)

Comment by AZ

October 22, 2008 @ 10:38 pm

In regards to your question about picture book reading ages… count us in as a Picture Book Family. I’ll bring home a stack of picture books from the library and all the kids will scoot close, snuggle up, and listen as I read aloud. That includes a 10 year-old boy, 8 and 5 year old girls, in addition to the 2-year old son. We read books of all levels aloud. My 10 year old and I still often pick a picture book to read together before bed… but on the other hand, when he was five we were also already reading weighty tomes like Treasure Island together… A good book is a good book! Lots of good books have pictures. Lots of good books don’t….

In college, a group of friends and I would get together every few days to read to each other from the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ books. I hadn’t had anyone read TO me for pleasure for ages! It was Wonderful. Two of those friends went on to form “The A.A.Milne Society” which simply consisted of inviting a college professor once a month to read a chapter from a Pooh book. Any student who wanted to sit on a little carpet square and listen could come. It became the second largest organization on campus.

People love to be read to — there just aren’t many opportunities…

Comment by vivian vasquez

October 25, 2008 @ 4:41 pm

I read to my undergrad and grad students on a regular basis just as I did with my pre-school and elementary school students! Of course we read at least 3-4 books a night with our 5 year old as well.

Comment by Amber

October 30, 2008 @ 11:09 am

I agree with NEVER! We have friends that gather at Christmas time at the grandparents’ house and read A Christmas Carol aloud as an extended family. What an awesome tradition.

Comment by Just One More Book!!

October 30, 2008 @ 11:21 am

Great point, Amber!

Since 1990, CBC’s public readings of “A Christmas Carol” have become a Christmas tradition for thousands of Canadians. Each year, there are more than 100 readings across the country, from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Prince Rupert, British Columbia and dozens of points in between, running from mid-November until mid-December. For more information visit

Comment by John Speno

November 9, 2008 @ 3:58 pm

Great topic. Lots of great info on reading aloud is to be found in Jim Trelease’s book “The Read-Aloud Handbook”.

I’d think he’d agree that you are never too old.

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