Other than reading a favorite storybook to a child, most of us seldom read aloud. Reading is a private, relaxing time when our minds leave the room and enter the world created by our author of choice.
For those of us with pets, it is not unusual for the critters to settle in nearby, patiently waiting for us to return from our mental wanderings. Many will only wait so long before deciding to fetch us back to reality.
In her series “The Cat Who…,” author Lillian Jackson Braun’s main character, Jim Qwilleran, regularly reads to his Siamese cats. As he explains, the cats may not understand what he is saying, but seem to enjoy the sound of his voice.
I read the first book in the series about 20 years ago and found the theory interesting. So I started reading to the dogs. Qwilleran was right – they don’t understand what I’m saying but enjoy these sessions nonetheless.
Over the years I’ve continued to read to the dogs. They lay quietly watching me, perhaps lifting heads and perking ears when my voice inflections follow with the tone of the book. While I’m an avid reader, I also like spending time with the dogs. Reading to them allows me to enjoy both pastimes simultaneously.
Reading aloud to the family dog and/or cat precludes speed-reading. But it does add another dimension. I must admit that initially it seemed strange to hear the spoken word in my own voice. It felt awkward – this wasn’t how books were supposed to be enjoyed. Books should be read in silence. Isn’t that why one speaks only in whispers in libraries? But before long I was adding emphasis where appropriate and even throwing in sound effects, much to the dogs’ delight.
The dogs may not understand what I’m saying, but they definitely enjoy traveling with me through the literary world. And I’m very happy to take them on the trip.