April 19, 2006

Reading Aloud

When my children were little, I read to them pretty often, sometimes during quiet afternoons but more often at night, while snuggled in their beds just before it was time for them to sleep. Of course, I chose all my favorite childhood books. As my Wonderful Smart Beautiful Daughter got older, she would take turns reading sometimes, especially when we were camping, all of us lying together on the floor of the tent while she bent over a book with a flashlight.

As my children have gotten older, they've developed their own taste in books, moving away from all the books I've bought and choosing ones of their own. I've never read much science fiction or fantasy, but my kids have read quite a bit. And it’s cool that my kids are old enough to recommend books to me.

Recently, With-a-Why has been choosing books he loves and reading them to me at night before he goes to sleep. We read The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster as his insistence. He loves that book. He is also convinced that I need to read some Phillip Pullman, because he loved the whole His Dark Materials trilogy. So this week, we have been reading a few chapters of The Golden Compass aloud. Sometimes I read, while he snuggles up to me with his special pillow and stuffed dog, and sometimes I relax against the pillows and let him read to me. It's not a book I would have read on my own, but I have to admit that I am enjoying it.

That's one of the coolest things about parenting – how quickly the learning becomes reciprocal.


kabbage said...

I love reading out loud and being read to! It's one of the bad things about living with no other humans. The dogs won't read to me! One is a very good listener, though, with ears up and often her head cocked as she tries to understand. She was a great practice audience for Toastmasters speeches, too.

Our public radio used to have a couple of programs where people read either a novel (over many weeks!) or short stories (NPR's Selected Shorts), but they discontinued them. I miss them, but I still donate.

kermitthefrog said...

Oh, I'm glad your kids are introducing you to Norton Juster and Phillip Pullman! I hope you're liking them.

Pink Cupcake said...

I've never really been able to get into fantasy books, but I very much enjoyed the Philip Pullman books.

I love being read to aloud, there's something very comforting about it, although when my husband and I do it, we always end up interrupting one another and having discussions about the book.

zelda1 said...

Your with a why reminds me of when my daughter began reading her own books and would want to read them to me. I suffered through while smiling, at might add, all the Andrews books, you know the ones, Children in the Attic and so on. Then when she grew up, well passed 18, she recommended a lot of King books and before she quit reading all together, before she got so lost in the meth, she would buy books and read them quickly then bring them to me, and I would buy books that I knew she liked and read them and give them to her. Those books gave us hours of discussions and phone calls and why didn't you tell me that was going to happen. Reading to your children and allowing them to read to you, well you can never go wrong.

landismom said...

My daughter is just at the point where she is able to read aloud and to herself--the sweetest thing is to see her reading to my son, which she enjoys doing every night at bedtime. Thanks for this post--I know I have years of sharing reading left to go. Looking forward to it.

KathyR said...

Love those Pullman books!

How is it that you still have readers? I'm a reader, my husband's a reader. We read to the boy, but he pretty much views reading as "work" and avoids it other than as required by school.


jo(e) said...

KathyR: People ask me that pretty often -- how did you get your kids to be good readers?

My main strategy for getting my kids to read was to eliminate television from our lives and have lots of books around. That way, the kids would get bored and start reading because there was nothing else to do. It seems to have worked.

negativecapability said...

Reading the Phantom Tollbooth (when I was in first grade maybe?) was a seminal event in my life. I felt that it was the first book that "got it"...that got ME.

Zelda - I got hooked on V.C. Andrews later in life, late high school I think. I've read the earlier series (the ones she actually wrote) I don't know how many times. Those books are like some strange drug to me - even after they started becoming more and more transparent to me.

I was just always a reader...one day when I was about four I picked up a random magazine and started reading it to my mom. She was completely shocked and still has no idea how/why it happened. My brother has never been a reader, despite growing up in the same environment, and with me around reading to him when he was little, too.

Rana said...

Reading to and being read to are two of the coolest things human beings can do with other people. D. and I read a lot to each other during our courtship, and often revisit the practice on long road trips. (Plus there's all the "Oh, you have to hear this!" spontaneous sharing of reading material.)

Did you know that factory workers at the turn of the century often used to pay one of their fellow co-workers to read to them while they worked?

Phantom Scribbler said...

Don't feel guilty, KathyR. The TV was on all waking hours in my house, and I still grew up to be a reader. My dad recently sent me a childhood photo of my brother and sister mesmerized in front of the TV while I sat a few feet away on the couch, absorbed in a book.

I've taken the Lethargians daily schedule as my personal ideal.

halloweenlover said...

Oh Jo(e), I can't wait to have kids!!!

kathy a said...

we never had cable, in the hopes the kids would find better things to do than cruise 150 channels.

my son gets really interested in some books, some times -- but my daughter is a true bookworm. a kid after my own heart!

Suzanne said...

What a lovely post! I truly can't wait to introduce my favorite kids' books to my children (The Phantom Tollbooth is near the top of the list), and to have them read to me.

I and my husband are avid readers, and I hope that we can instill this love in our kids, as you did.

see-through faith said...

love this

teenageson has only just fallen in love with books - and the one genre that I can't stand - fantasy books :( but the bedtime reading we loved and it continued until he and his sister were young teenagers.

now msn, and other pc interests take much of their free time