2013-03-01 / Columnists

Words

By Eileen Hodges
By Eileen Hodges

Why Did We Stop Reading Aloud?

I am from a family of 10…well, 12 I guess, if you count the parents. Ten kids running about with one real bathroom was, to say the least, extremely chaotic. My oldest and youngest siblings are 22 years apart. There was a minimum of three teenagers at a time; usually one kid was still in diapers and more than one in crisis.

What would calm everyone down and get more than a few children to sit still, was when my mother read a book aloud. She read to the young ones, but many of us older kids pretended we had to be in the living room, just so we could listen. Her voice was clear and calming and the words ran and rattled off of each other, her inflections perfect for the text.

Reading aloud, or being read to, takes us away from the mundane. It is escapism with the added bonus of education and enlightenment. We are actors playing a part or the audience being swept away. Whether we read Dr. Seuss to our toddlers or Shakespeare’s Sonnets to a loved one, the simple act of reading words aloud gives them importance. It creates an arena of togetherness that is at once private and wide. The book takes us away to unimaginable places while fostering the notion that we are the only ones allowed to go.

I am going to start again myself. The last real book I read aloud from start to finish was Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach for my own four children who are now grown and gone. It is a lovely, crazy fantasy suitable for all ages and I highly recommend it. I will read aloud parts of an article I am reading to someone, or a poem I am working on, but nothing like the regular, scheduled, highly anticipated ritual of coming back to a well-loved book to see what exciting things are going to happen next.

And March 6th is World Read Aloud Day. We now have the perfect excuse to ask a librarian for a great book to read aloud and take some time from our busy schedules to relax, read to a loved one, and get close while getting away. You can find suggestions and information from the LitWorldwebsite… http: // litworld. rg/worldreadalouddayactivities/.

Perhaps your family already reads aloud to one another; if so, drop me a line with a favorite book that you’ve read that works great for reading aloud at eileenrockbeach@gmail.com and I’ll pass it along.

If not, let’s do this. Let’s start reading

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