Cover image for The enchanted hour : the miraculous power of reading aloud in the age of distraction / by Meghan Cox  Gurdon.
The enchanted hour : the miraculous power of reading aloud in the age of distraction / by Meghan Cox Gurdon.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper, 2019.

Physical Description:
xix, 278 pages ; 24 cm
Examines how reading aloud makes adults and children smarter, happier, healthier, more successful, and more closely attached, even as technology pulls in the other direction.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
372.452 GUR Book Adult General Collection

On Order



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 powerful fuel for the heart, brain, and imagination. Grounded in the latest neuroscience and behavioral research, and drawing widely from literature, The Enchanted Hour explains the dazzling cognitive and social-emotional benefits that await children, whatever their class, nationality or family background. But it's not just about bedtime stories for little kids: Reading aloud consoles, uplifts and invigorates at every age, deepening the intellectual lives and emotional well-being of teenagers and adults, too.

Meghan Cox Gurdon argues that this ancient practice is a fast-working antidote to the fractured attention spans, atomized families and unfulfilling ephemera of the tech era, helping to replenish what our devices are leaching away. For everyone, reading aloud engages the mind in complex narratives; for children, it's an irreplaceable gift that builds vocabulary, fosters imagination, and kindles a lifelong appreciation of language, stories and pictures.

Bringing together the latest scientific research, practical tips, and reading recommendations, The Enchanted Hour will both charm and galvanize, inspiring readers to share this invaluable, life-altering tradition with the people they love most.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Gurdon, children's book reviewer for the Wall Street Journal, combines a consciously old-fashioned, anti-technology perspective with modern, data-driven cognitive arguments to advocate for face-to-face reading with children early and often. Gurdon focuses especially on the value of the picture book to build connection, regulate attention and emotional awareness, transmit cultural values, and give children feelings of mastery through repetition. In trying to cover her subject thoroughly-she also discusses the value of reading aloud to vulnerable adults, such as hospitalized seniors-Gurdon sometimes contradicts her own points. For instance, she posits recordings as being of lesser value for not being interactive, but also that parents recording books for their children shows the value of reading aloud; similarly, that classics should not be retired for their prejudices and outdated messages, but also that home readers should modify what they read at will for their audience. This completism, combined with Gurdon's choice not to explain, until the end of her book, how to create an "enchanted hour" of reading aloud, may lead to readers losing interest partway, leaving them with the feeling she is still trying to convince long after they are ready to take action. Agent: Stephen Barbara, InkWell Management. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

The magic of reading aloud benefits everybody, young and old, according to Wall Street Journal book critic and mother of five Gurdon, who advocates for this simple activity using research results, interviews with readers, quotes from literature, and her own family's experiences. Gurdon convincingly describes the importance and delight of sharing books with loved ones. Reading aloud teaches language, cultural touchstones, and even aesthetics through illustrations. Books transport us to other times or places. Studies show that reading to children increases their vocabulary, both in quantity and quality, and that reading to the elderly or infirm strengthens social connections. In conclusion, Gurdon advises families how to read aloud every day, providing an alphabetical list of more than 100 titles and additional suggestions divided by topics such as bedtime, kindness, fairy tales, and classics for older listeners. VERDICT Similar to Jim Trelease's classic The Read-Aloud Handbook, this volume promotes an age-old tradition that originated with oral storytelling. For anybody interested in reading, especially parents, teachers, caregivers, and librarians, this inspirational work proclaims its joys and rewards.-Janet Clapp, N. Clarendon, VT © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Author's notep. XI
Introductionp. XIII
1 What Reading to Children Does to Their Brainsp. 1
2 Where It All Began: Once Upon a Time in the Ancient Worldp. 21
3 Reading Together Strengthens the Bonds of Lovep. 41
4 Turbocharging Child Development with Picture Booksp. 67
5 The Rich Rewards of a Vast Vocabularyp. 91
6 The Power of Paying Attention-and Flying Freep. 117
7 Reading Aloud Furnishes the Mindp. 145
8 From the Nursery to the Nursing Home: Why Reading Aloud Never Gets Oldp. 177
9 There Is No Present Like the Timep. 195
Afterwordp. 217
Acknowledgmentsp. 219
Notesp. 223
Read-Aloud Books Mentioned In The Enchanted Hourp. 251
More Suggested Stories For Reading Aloudp. 255
Indexp. 263