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The days are getting shorter and there is a hint of crispness in the air. Soon, too soon, the languid days of summer will be over and autumn will be here. Naturally, my mind has begun to turn towards preparing my son for his inevitable return to school. Its been a flurry of clothes and supplies shopping, arranging for after-school, and the return to routine. Once again, I will begin to mandate a time for reading, both alone and together. Ever since he was a baby he’s been read to and although my son will be entering the 5th grade this year we will choose and put aside books especially to be read aloud.
Presumably one would think he’s too old to be read to, that it’s too babyish. I disagree. An article at the website Education World (Reading Aloud: Are Students Ever Too Old?) corroborates my belief. Not only does reading aloud to your child promote reading literacy but it’s also great bonding time. Some of my greatest childhood memories were of my father reading to my sister and I. My Dad was a master of reading with character voices, he had the wonderful talent of becoming a persona; I remember with great fondness his reading, in the vernacular, the adventures of Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox and his interpretation of Kipling’s Rikki-Tikki-Tavi made real for me the epic life and death battle of the stalwart little mongoose with the evil snake Nagaina. The latter so fondly remembered that a few years ago while reading aloud with family I coerced my Dad to read, once again, one of my favorite stories. And for a moment, at the age of 40, I was able to relive a wonderful childhood memory. I don’t think he truly understood what a wonderful gift he gave me that summer evening. (Dad: If you’re reading this now, Thanks).
I too, want to give this gift to my son. I try very hard to do voices; my pirate voice is pretty good (but I recommend having a glass of water on hand) and some of my very favorite characters to read have been those of Roald Dahl. It feels so good to become the deliciously bratty Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the sinister Grand High Witch from The Witches. I suppose I must be doing something right because my tween still looks forward to laying in bed listening to Mom’s interpretation of stories, bad accents and all. At least, I haven’t yet had any complaints!
A Brief List of past, present and future read-alouds
- Rudyard Kipling, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
- Roald Dahl, The Witches
- Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Roald Dahl, The BFG
- Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox
- Edward Eager, Half Magic
- E.B. White, Stuart Little
- Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia
- Walter D. Edmonds, The Matchlock Gun
- Grace Lin, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- Elizabeth George Speare, The Witch of Blackbird Pond