If you want to remember something, read it out loud

“Read something out loud when you really want to remember it.’ These are the findings from a recent University of Waterloo study that found that “speaking text aloud helps to get words into long-term memory. Dubbed the “production effect,” the study determined that it is the dual action of speaking and hearing oneself that has the most beneficial impact on memory.”

Colin M.  MacLeod, the university professor who co-authored the study with post-doctoral fellow Noah Forrin, found that “When we add an active measure or a production element to a word, that word becomes more distinct in long-term memory, and hence more memorable.”

Their study tested four methods for learning written information: 1) reading silently, 2) hearing someone else read, 3) listening to a recording of oneself reading, and 4) reading out loud.  Results from tests with nearly 100 participants showed that reading information out loud to yourself resulted in the best remembering.

The researchers remind us that there are also other ways to build a good memory such as regular exercise and movement. Also, writing and typing words can enhance overall memory retention.

This research seems relevant to another set of findings in the literature: reading out loud to children helps to advance their reading, writing, and communication skills. This is another reason to read out loud to children – to develop their appreciation for reading out loud, and encourage them as they become proficient readers to read out loud to themselves. This will help them practice becoming good communicators and serve them in good stead when they want to remember what they have read.

Visit Storyline Online for Good Storytelling

Reading out loud to children helps advance their reading, writing, and communication skills. One of my favorite sites to supplement reading out loud by parents and caretakers is Storyline Online. The website hosts terrifically produced videos of actors (like Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, and Betty White) reading children’s books accompanied by wonderful illustrations and cool sound effects. At the end of each reading, the actors tell us why they liked the story. This is an opportunity to ask your child what they thought about the story too.

The award-winning website receives more than 100 million views annually from children (and adults too!) all over the world. And there are many types of stories in their library to select from.

Here’s one I listened to recently you might want to check out: A Bad Case of Stripes read by Sean Astin.

Happy listening!