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The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  2,259 ratings  ·  496 reviews
A Wall Street Journal writer’s conversation-changing look at how reading aloud makes adults and children smarter, happier, healthier, more successful and more closely attached, even as technology pulls in the other direction.

A miraculous alchemy occurs when one person reads to another, transforming the simple stuff of a book, a voice, and a bit of time into complex and pow
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Harper
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Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"mental vitamins and emotional nutrients."

A good book is an empathy machine.

A book is a portal.

The Enchanted Hour is an interesting read, and more than that it is an important and required reading for everyone to understand the power and valuable benefits that come from reading books, and more particularly from reading aloud to family, friends and also self.

Meghan Gurdon discusses at length about the value and importance of reading and reading aloud to one another. She also puts particular empha
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I went into this expecting a lighter read about the love of books and instead found a deep scholarly work examining several topics connected to reading aloud. It spans brain development, bonding, and even looks at some studies of parents who were incarcerated or serving in the military recording themselves reading to their children and how that lessened anxiety.

I always make the students in my reading class read out loud, but I think this book will add some scholarly depth to that practice.

Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Subtitled, “The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction,” this is a book, and a subject, which is dear to my heart. I have worked in education all my life, I am a voracious reader, a reading mentor and – like the author – have spent many happy hours reading to my children. As such, this is something of preaching to the converted, but it was still an enjoyable read about the importance of reading aloud, which came from an article the author wrote for the ‘Wall Street Journal’, ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Although this book may appear to be geared towards parents, it is not. Many can get a great deal of insight, knowledge and especially the fondness of our own memories behind reading or being read to. My average score was due to the fact that the story was somewhat repetitive and at times generalizing but other than that, I enjoyed it. (PS I liked the message of unplugging and promoting togetherness).
Tracy Challis
There are times when dreams sustain us more than facts. To read a book and surrender to a story is to keep our very humanity alive.

This wonderful book is filled with studies, scientific findings, anecdotal stories, quotes, and research about the value and importance of reading aloud. Reading a book aloud creates a shared experience that benefits everyone - children, older adults, stroke patients, shelter dogs, dementia sufferers, and prisoners- just to name a few. I was already sold on reading
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book arrived in my mailbox this afternoon and I sat down and started reading. I read until I finished the book - it was wonderful!

I read aloud to my children and grandchildren, and sometimes to my husband. This books confirmed my commitment to reading to them, and taught me more than a few facts about the benefits of reading aloud on the listener (and the reader).

Ms. Gurdon also includes excellent lists of books to read aloud.

(And her weekly review of children's books in the Wall Street Jo
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book I have read so far on the topic of reading aloud. Very well thought through chapters, full of research results, personal anecdotes, stories to encourage to read aloud from the womb to the grave. So happy I have found this book!
Yes-to reading aloud and cool neuroscience! Ugh-to classist generalizations and low-key parent shaming.
Brittany Viklund
Jan 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
THIS THIS THIS!!!!! 🙌 I’m so utterly grateful for this book, even with my background in early childhood education & familiarity with much of the research & information regarding reading aloud to young children referenced in this book my eyes were opened in a new way. I have been given so many more tools & encouragement to continue reading to my children for many many more years, which truly fills my soul. This book is everything parents needs to know. From every dog-eared page, to each passage I ...more
Here, let me summarize this book so you don’t have to read it: “Reading aloud is really great. Really, guys. It’s awesome. It’s great for everyone. Your kids. You. Old people. And especially my family. Let me give you some interminable quotes of read-aloud sessions I had with my kids five years ago. Aren’t they adorable? All this could be yours. Just do it.”

Which gets to the heart of the problem: this book should have been categorized as memoir, not nonfiction. In which case I obviously never w
I feel like I should start off this review by acknowledging that I am a librarian, formerly a Children's Librarian and that I am 110% pro-reading aloud and I came into this book with that bias firmly planted in my head.

That said I was blown away by the statistics and studies quoted in this book that showed the importance of reading aloud to not only young children, but other adults including parents, spouses and siblings, the elderly, the sick, the hospitalized, the incarcerated and abused anim
Kaethe Douglas
Apr 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I anticipate contention, since the author has already annoyed me on page xi.

"For simplicity, I often use the word parent to describe any given adult who reads to a child and trust that all the aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, teachers, babysitters, and lovely next-door neighbors who read to children will understand that of course I mean them, too.

Show of hands: who else reads this and thinks "wouldn't the word reader be more simple, more clear, and less likely to piss off someone who
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’ ...more
Since leaving University, I have had very little reason to read aloud. I felt that Meghan Cox Gurdon's The Enchanted Hour might kindle my interest in starting to do so once again, as it sounded so promising. Whilst I really enjoyed the concept behind the book, I found that it focused far too much on reading aloud to children, and reading together as a family. Whilst I'm sure this will prove useful to many readers, it holds little interest or applicability for me personally. Despite not finishing ...more
2.5 - I loved the message of this book, but I didn't love reading it. I found many parts dragged on, but maybe that's because I was already a believer. Someone new to the topic might get more out of it. ...more
N.N. Light
Oral storytelling has been around since the beginning of time. Reading aloud to children is not only a great bonding experience but has many physical, emotional and mental benefits. In this book by a Wall Street Journal's children's book reviewer and essayist, there’s finally scientific evidence supporting the theory of reading aloud.

Step by step, Meghan Cox Gurdon lays the foundation for reading with our children. It builds vocabulary, cognitive skills and makes both the reader and the listene
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book that mixes elements of a memoir with evidence and example about the benefits of reading aloud to children of all ages.
Christina DeVane
4.5 🌟 Another great read about reading!🤓 The beginning chapters didn’t flow as well as the later ones. I enjoyed the many different angles this book portrayed for reading aloud- soldiers recording stories when they are deployed, reading to those in hospitals or nursing homes, etc. And another great book list at the back. Getting my own hard copy of this one!
Jenn Conwell
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grew up with parents who read to me almost every night and at every age. I have been blessed with wonderful memories to cherish forever by reading everything from Dr. Suess books to the Chronicles of Narnia series with my parents. It’s something I’ve vowed to do for my child. What I really never grasped was the importance of reading aloud to not only children, but people of all ages. This book shares some awesome data on just that. It talks about how reading aloud with family members has helpe ...more
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very accessible book that makes the case for reading aloud to children (mostly children, but a few later chapters do talk about reading to adults) as both a way to give children a boost in school and to provide “together” time for a family. It is much less The Sky Is Falling!/hand-wringy than other recent books about the tech vs paper book divide. Gurdon brings together a lot of research and in person interviews (and some cute family anecdotes). Some of the recommendations do seem like they ap ...more
" reading with a child, we are teaching that child to be human."-- Anna Dewdney via this book

I've read a lot of books about books, so I was prepared to be politely underwhelmed. Instead, I loved it. It's a really lovely tone, weaving bits of research with anecdotes from the author's family life and career as the Wall Street Journal children's book reviewer. So many of the stories and programs she shared really moved and inspired me, and I'm so glad I didn't dismiss it out of hand.
Susan Morris
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an interesting read, full of examples of the importance of reading aloud! It reinforces my feelings in the library that I mainly do read alouds with classes; they’re getting plenty of technology everywhere else. I want to use some of this information with parents at school. Glad I chanced upon this at Barnes & Noble. (Own)
Sarah Bloomberg
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who loves reading, has children in their lives, or is a teacher, should read this book! Wonderful nuggets of information. Absolutely loved this book!
Melody Schwarting
"Reading aloud is the best" in personal essay format. This one is definitely geared toward educated, yuppie parents who want to give their kids a good start in the world, and find that family closeness amid the screens of the 21st century.

Growing up home schooled, other children often told me, "My mom and I would kill each other if we were at home all day together!" Matricide notwithstanding, I wonder if what they were missing in their relationships was the shared language and experience bequeat
Mid-Continent Public Library
For me this book was a total home run and I will be recommending it to friends and family. The magic of reading aloud is known to me from raising my boys; and as a library worker specializing in youth services I am a big advocate for reading. Just as when I read Trelease's book "The Readaloud Handbook," I found that this book reinforced and validated the wow factor in shared reading experiences. Some have commented that this is of greater interest to young parents. I would counter with the argum ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is extremely, as they say, my jam. I am pretty into reading books about reading aloud to children and the benefits thereof, but this is the first one I’ve read that also delves into reading aloud to other adults, the very elderly, and even, in one short section, rescue dogs. In addition to the usual recitation of studies about brain development, vocabulary acquisition, and all that, there are also some really beautiful passages about the intangibles. I devoured this over the course of two p ...more
Jade Louise
I received my copy of this book for review via Netgalley

Going into The Enchanted Hour, I anticipated the book to be all about the benefits of reading aloud to children, and perhaps a couple of snippets of bookish joys the author has experienced with her own children - and whilst both of those things can be found within The Enchanted Hour, it is also so much more than that. The writer of this book, Meghan Cox Gurdon, talks about the history of reading aloud, helps the reader to understand the dev
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I told myself I wouldn't check out any more library books for myself because I own many unread books, but I couldn't resist this cover and title.
It's refreshing to read about something that I already appreciate and enjoy. Last night I had an epiphany while concluding the book: so often I long for a time where I could just do nothing but read! What if I started lumping bedtime reading with Evie into this magical "do nothing but read" time that I dream of? I enjoy bedtime reading with Evie, but s
Sept 2020: Re-read via audiobook. I don't *need* to read more about reading aloud, but there's something very comforting & encouraging about these types of books for me. Even having read it previously, different parts struck me this time now my kids are at different ages/stages. And now we are homeschooling for at least this year, I look at these sorts of books in a slightly different light. I may not be an educational expert, but I can read aloud -- and it's nice to remember just how important ...more
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meghan Cox Gurdon makes a simple yet profound argument in her book The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction: "Reading out loud is probably the least expensive and most effective intervention we can make for the good of our families and for the wider culture."

I am perhaps not the best judge of the merits of this book's argumentation, as I came to it already a believer. (I suspect most Goodreads users would feel the same.) As a parent, teacher, and parish
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4 likes · 2 comments
“The act of reading together secures people to one another, creating order and connection, as if we were quilt squares tacked together with threads made of stories. That's not just another metaphor, as a team of neuroscientists at Princeton has discovered. Even as reader and listener are enjoying their bouquet of neurochemicals ... their brain activity is synchronizing, creating literal order and connection in a process known as neural coupling.” 5 likes
“Here is a reader, a book, a listener. The sound of the voice exists for a moment and then it vanishes. Like birdsong, it’s gone—it is over. Yet it leaves traces of its passage in the imagination and memory of those who listen. There is incredible power in this fugitive exchange.” 2 likes
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