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A Feel-Good Story To Start Your Week:
'One Of The Reasons I Do Voice Over'

By Darla Middlebrook
Voice Actor

Note: VoiceOverXtra asked me to repeat - and expand upon - a post that I presented through Facebook on July 21, 2013. The original post was a basic quick "shout-out” about one of the reasons why I do voice over.  So, here is the expanded, more thought out version.

I want to tell you why yesterday (July 20th) was a great day.

As usual, I read to some of the residents at a local nursing home here in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (Canada).

There's a group of about 10 who regularly come to listen to me.  I read to them twice each month, usually on the first and third Saturdays of the month. 

The staff at the nursing home has often told me that these people just like to listen, but really don't care about the stories or are not really "involved" in the reads because of memory problems, and/or general alertness.

So, "it doesn't matter what you read to them.". 

But, I was warned, books with plots would not be a good idea,"because they won’t remember.”


When I started doing this a little over a year ago, I was reading articles from magazines and newspapers. 

There was a lot of sleeping going on and it was becoming a boring activity for all involved. So one day I came in with a choice for my listeners and asked them which they would prefer … the articles - appropriate magazines held up for all to see - or a sci-fi/fantasy book written by A. Lee Martinez (In the Company of Ogres). 

They chose "Ogres.” 

Well, for the past few months, I've been reading sci-fi and fantasy stuff to the residents with the occasional murder mystery, true crime or western thrown in. And I have noticed, especially with the last three books, that the people are alert and involved in the stories.

They have asked questions about the plots and cheered - actual fist pumping cheers! -  when the villains of the stories "get what's coming to them.”


We finished up a novel yesterday and started on a new one. The new book was a murder mystery.  Already, I was getting questions about where the story was headed.

Right. "Not involved" my eye!! Avoid books with plots. Puh-leez!!

This is why I enjoy doing the reading for these people.

Some of the audience has even taken to teasing me about changing the swear words when I read. I have tried to explain that since some of them have hearing problems and I have to read very loudly, I can be heard way down the hall. I am really not comfortable blasting out the F-bomb or some of the other choice expletives that the authors throw into their writing.

I have been informed by my listeners that they are grown-ups, ranging in age from 70's to over 100 years. But I'm still going to censor on the fly, thank you very much.

So, this is my story about why yesterday, July 20th, was a great day!  
Darla Middlebrook is a transplanted Ohio girl who has lived in Saskatchewan Canada most of her life, usually sharing her home with a cat or two. Originally from Mansfield, Ohio, she retired from about 35 years as a Speech Pathologist (SLP) working with children. While working as an SLP, she found time to perform on stage in operas, musicals and dramas. Darla says that retirement has allowed her to reinvent herself as a voice over talent specializing in narrating audiobooks. She brings to this new career a background in speech, language, singing and acting. Since retiring, Darla has also been able to devote time to volunteer work, including - through the local hospital in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan - delivering meals to out-patients and reading to residents at one of the local nursing homes. She also lends her voice to AIRS-LA.


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Comments (7)
sheila Middlebrook
12/23/2013 at 11:00 AM
Since Darla is my sister you can imagine how proud I am of her and her accomplishments. Her common-sense application of her skills and professionalism is commendable, as well as an inspiration to those who have skills but no interest in applying those talents in the service of those of us most ignored: the elderly.
Eric Singer
8/13/2013 at 12:55 PM
Thanks for the inspirational "tale" of how when doing what is selfless & helpful to others, a huge sense of fulfillment rushes in, naturally. What a wonderfully bright spark you must provide in these individuals' lives. Perhaps they look forward to your story-telling as much as anything they engage in! It's just my guess. I'm certain they dearly love you for spending your time with, and exerting your energy for, them. Bet it helps you immensely too, huh ?!
My thanks to you again for sharing this with us...and for INSPIRING.
Elizabeth Holmes
8/12/2013 at 3:29 PM
Wow, Darla! This is a *wonderful* story. Thank you for sharing it. My father is 94 years old, and audiobooks are one of the things we've enjoyed together for the last thirty years. Good for you for following your instincts, and not allowing "experts" to talk you out of your first choice of reading material.
Ron Whittemore
8/12/2013 at 10:11 AM
Darla...wonderful work to such a worthy and overlooked segment of our population. Best to you!
jennifer m dixon
8/12/2013 at 9:28 AM
Great expectations receive great results! Yaay Darla! Love what you are doing!
Andy Boyns
8/12/2013 at 8:46 AM
In a nutshell: Darla rocks!
Marie Hoffman
8/12/2013 at 7:45 AM
Good for you, Darla!! Thanks for sharing.

Marie Hoffman
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