Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reading Aloud

There was a period of years when our daughter was growing up that we followed a tradition of reading aloud to one another every evening after dinner was finished.

If memory serves me correctly, I think we started doing this even before she felt comfortable taking her turn at reading. But she inherited her dad's and my love of reading and quickly entered into the rotation of reading aloud herself.

One person would do dishes, one would read at the kitchen table while the third would either just sit and listen or in my case, most likely listen while doing some handwork.

Of course, I can't begin to remember all the books we read. If it was a hefty one, it took many, many nights to get through because we probably read only 15 to 30 minutes each night.

I do remember making our way through all of the James Herriot Books.

What could have been more enjoyable than that?

My all-time favorite that we read together would have to be "The Land Remembers," by Ben Logan. We all sobbed, choked and hiccupped our way through "Where the Red Fern Grows," by Wilson Rawls.

Each holiday season, I insisted we read two of Truman Capote's books, "The Thanksgiving Visitor" and "A Christmas Memory." Admittedly, my other two family members were never quite as enthralled with these two stories as I was, but they have always struck a cord with me. The house where Capote lived as a child with his aunts and uncle was in my mind's eye my grandparents house and I could picture his characters existing there as clearly as my family did.

I miss those years. Hubby and I often talk about making the time to sit together at night while one of us reads aloud, but it never seems to happen. But we have the memories of when our daughter was growing up and the three of us did read aloud together. And that is a very good thing.


beth said...

I have those read aloud memories too! In fact, some days I would have what I called "reading marathons". I would read as long as the kids would let me. ;) I loved reading some of the same books you mentioned. Are you reading anything interesting these days? Do you have a library near by? My library is closing for 6 weeks...so I'll be driving farther to get books to read for a while.

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Beth - I'm hoping our kids remember those "read aloud times" with the same fondness we do!

I haven't read a really good book in quite a while but do currently have two that I'm anxious to get into. One is "An Irish Country Doctor" by Patrick Taylor. It's a novel based on journals that the author kept of his early days as a doctor in rural Ireland.

The other one was recommended highly to me by two separate people. It's a true story that takes place in occupied France during World War II, and is called "Suite Francaise" by Irene Nemirovsky. I'm eager to get into both of these books!

For the size of our small, somewhat isolated town, we have an excellent library. And anything we can't find there, we can get through Mail-A-Book. We have even requested books through them that they ORDERED for us! How's that for service?

Erin said...

What a coincidence - we do the same thing! I started with Catherine Friend's books about 2 years ago, the kids couldn't read yet, but totally grasped the humanely raised meat concept and now point out good farms vs bad and tell me why when we drive by them! This year, it was on to Laura Ingalls, which were my favorites as a child. We are on our 4th, "Farmer Boy" and my 7 year old now started reading aloud a couple weeks ago, so now instead of reading, I get to knit and listen! Since we killed the cable TV we have more time for books than before and are flying through them. Bonus is that Loch can read with inflection from listening to me, whereas most kids his age are still struggling with picture books and monotone voices, LOL! The James Herriot books are a great idea, my dad read them when I was young.

Chicken Mama said...

Reading aloud during dishes is one of my most favorite childhood memories, Mom! I can still picture you at that horrid old dining room table with your feet propped up on the bottom rung of another of the dining room chairs reading . . . while Dad smoked his pipe, and I did the dishes. :)

That said, I have no recollection of hearing ANYTHING but the James Herriot books and the 'Little House' series. But, maybe it's just because those were the ones that interested me?

Reading aloud was one of the primary things that kept Tom and me going, I think, that one year when we made the 5-6 hour, one way, trip up here from Minneapolis EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND to work on our first little house before we moved up and into it. I remember that I would begin reading as soon as we got out of the city and not stop until my voice was hoarse, usually just an hour or 90 minutes from home.

Aloud reading (out loud reading?) is, like penmanship and hand-written letters, becoming a lost art. Let's all work to bring it back!

W.C.Camp said...

Wow Herriot to Capote - your kids are certainly well read and diverse! Reading with your kids is one of the greatest gifts you will ever give. Nice post. I reflected on my parental experience as well.
Take care. -W.C.C.


Mama Pea said...

Hey, Erin - Yes, of course, all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, too. I think we went through them twice.

Sounds like Loch is already reading at a level beyond his years. Just think of the doors reading will open to him.

Chicken Mama - Hey! I liked that table!!

I think it is the wise parent who makes time to read aloud to their children. I think I missed out on a lot because my parents never did so. (That and the fact that the librarian at the library right across the street from us was a witch who scared me to death!)

Hi, W.C. - Welcome and thanks for commenting. Stop by again.

Jennifer Jo said...

Reading aloud---one of my favoritist things EVER! I remember my father reading City of Joy to us (and cringing at the castration part), as well as all the old classics/favorites. Right now I'm reading The Endless Steppe to the kids...

Mama Pea said...

Hi, JJ - The neat thing is that even if the kids that you're reading to vary greatly in age, each one will get something different from each book. And the exposure to what books have to offer is fantastic!

Karen Sue said...

We weren't rich kids, but my mom made frequent trips to the library every summer. We read a TON. Not so much aloud, but many nights sneaking the light on to read after bedtime! When I started working at a school, I went to hear James Trelease, who wrote "The Read-Aloud Handbook" and had to buy the book and read it. YES, YES, YES!! Read and read aloud and let them see you reading for fun!! I read aloud to each of my 4 kids before bedtime, until their sports and activities made that too hard. Having their 4 books and mine got wild sometimes, but I'd go back to that in a heartbeat! My daughter is not the best reader, but she is scrambling to get at least halfway through the Nicholas Sparks book before they go see the movie on Friday! At Christmas, every kid in my house gets a bookstack as one gift... maybe a CD of music in it, a puzzle book,..one Italian dictionary for the college student, factoid books for my little lego man and attitude books for the teen daughter!! and the 9th grader has been a reader of big,hard books for a long time.. patterson for him.

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Karen Sue - I've often fantasized about one year doing a Christmas where I don't give anything but books! Wouldn't that be fun to go into a Barnes & Noble or such and buy everything right there?? (But come to think of it practically, ordering from Amazon would be cheaper!)

Karen L. said...

Oh yes, reading to your kids can be the best gift you ever give them. My dad was a big reader and my brother and I became the same. As my three kids were growing, I started reading them a story every night before bed as soon as they could sit or be propped up. Now they also are huge readers. My husband gave me one Herriot book for a Christmas one year and, after finishing it quickly, I went out and bought the two succeeding books and read them. I have now read them all and loved them all, even bought the series on CD so I could listen to them while doing the dishes (kind of like you, huh?). Recently I have been reading Jon Katz, Jodi Picoult, and Anita Shrive. Love reading your blog too! You are a hoot sometimes! PS: That's a good thing.

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Karen -Welcome to the comments! And thank you so very much for your kind words. Getting comments from people who read your blog but don't usually comment is the greatest! Please feel free to do so again soon!

I think when you read to your kids, it gives them a sense of having your undivided attention along with exposing them to the written word. Plus that snuggling in a quiet, comfy setting is great, too!

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