Reading for pleasure

Reading aloud weaves a social bond and presents the literary world in its emotional dimension.

This exercise which dates back to the most ancient civilizations has been practiced throughout the ages and is again becoming popular today, in an era which seeks to rediscover the oral tradition.

For some years now, there has been a new infatuation for reading sessions in all sections of society and all over the world. This desire definitely corresponds to a need. The more we develop sophisticated means of communication, the less we communicate.

This practice offers a different understanding of books and involves sharing words and emotions without, however, imposing them on the listener.

The reader is a ferryman of books, a link between the text and the listener. Reading for others is a generous act requiring the physical and mental presence of the reader. One gladly listens to a reader who conjugates precise speaking techniques with his own emotional patrimony.

A text is read like a musical score comprising breathing, words, silences and the unspoken. By imparting body to the text, the reader brings the words to life, breaking the monotony of a declamatory reading, without variation and without a soul.

The aim of this exercice is not only to convey a piece of information, it stimulates listening, the senses and the mind and enables us to explore the fantastic and playful world of literature. Silences have their importance and at times are more evocative than words. In a world afraid of silence, invaded by sounds and images, the individual is unable to commune with himself, listen to others or to himself.

The simple pleasure of listening opens vistas for imagination, meditation and reflection. With an attentive audience, the reader questions his text, plunges into its complexities, and visualizes the characters and the settings.

The reader reads what is written in a simple straightforward manner. There is no need to emphasize an argument, the listener is sufficiently independent to be able to understand and interpret the emotional messages that are conveyed to him.

A reader gets involved. He gives meaning to his interpretation, in keeping with the style of the author in order to awaken the senses. His interpretation is subjective. There is no such thing as neutral reading and reading aloud means having something to say, to share, to give.

Every listener hears the same text, but readapts the story individually. Like a prompter, the reader diffuses words which fly away from the book to settle down in the crevices of the listeners’ ears. He is like a cameraman making a film by projecting his voice. A soundtrack with which each listener projects his images on the screen of his imagination.

Each reading is an adventure, a meeting with the self and the story of another.

Reading within this dimension is very much like a musician playing a composition. He must adapt himself to the piece to be played, and try to communicate the atmosphere and the characters within the complex structures of the story being read.

The reader appropriates the words in order to retransmit them in their entirety, with the necessary rhythms, without giving more importance to one protagonist over another. He is both the director and the players. The reader breathes life into the words, into both narration and dialogue.

A teacher, moderator, librarian or any other person wishing to exercise his talents in this field can envisage organizing reading aloud sessions in the context of his profession.

As for the academic circle, this simple sharing involving a book, a writer, a theme, can help the student develop a critical mind and perceive reading as an act of pleasure. A gratifying sharing between the student and the teacher within the parameters of the roles defining each one.

THE OBJECTIVES OF THE TRAINING COURSE IN READING ALOUD

This course is for anyone desirous of apprehending basic speaking techniques and developing interpretation qualities through vocal and oral expression exercises. Teachers, librarians, moderators who need to express themselves orally on a daily basis will find in this training program the tools which will enable them to deal with the difficulties related to the interpretation of a text, techniques of concentration and the significance of pauses.

I urge the “trainee reader” to use his emotional baggage and to make use of his personal talents so as to better interpret a text and convey it more convincingly.

In academic, cultural and artistic circles, I have been able to observe how much all those who express themselves in public desire to learn from this training course, which enables them to work on voice modulation, body language and gestures in harmony with their intellectual, sensual and professional qualities.

A reader asks himself three questions :

Where am I reading ? What am I reading ? For whom am I reading ?

Displaying style in speech is the surest way of translating literary styles. Perceiving different styles requires regular readings which becomes more refined over the course of time. Our own readings sharpen our perceptions of different styles and language levels.

Teaching is individualized. A “ready to wear” approach in this type of training will have no meaning. I adapt myself to each trainee. A good reading is the result of a harmony between the text and the self. Each reader has a voice, a heart, a soul, a fragile mechanism, which require some adjustments.

At the end of this initiation course the trainee will possess the necessary tools for creating literary events.

This creative and at the same time rigorous method of teaching reading aloud represents a more sensorial than intellectual approach to the transmission of knowledge and language.

To read is to create. An original way of shaping sentences. I have had the pleasure of passing on the art of reading aloud to a large number of people. This pleasure can be transferred.

Philippe Gaessler

Lire en Scène