Reading Aloud Revisited

Do you remember when I moaned about how the kids don’t want me to read aloud to them anymore? How they’ve outgrown it?

Apparently I was  a tad premature.

K approached me the other day with a question: “Mom, have you read The Hunger Games?”

Why yes, son, I have. All 4 books, as a matter of fact, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Why do you ask?

It seems that K, as grown up as he is, was a little concerned about whether or not the book would be… not scary, exactly, but maybe a little intense for a boy of almost-eleven.  We talked about it a bit, and I told him that he could always start it and, if he didn’t enjoy it, put it away for another day.

He decided he was ready to start reading it…

…if I would read it out loud to him.

Part of me was thrilled, but the other part of me now had a dilemma. While our boy of almost-eleven is definitely able to handle the more mature themes in the book, our girl of not-yet-nine most definitely was not. This most definitely could not be a family read-aloud.

At the same time, it didn’t feel right to start what was sure to become a several-months-long read-aloud of the four Hunger Games books with K and exclude B.

What to do?

After a rather short discussion with the kids, I learned that reading aloud is not, after all, something I should no longer do. Oh no! Instead, I should read twice as much, of course, with not one but two read-aloud plans, this time reading one-on-one.

I am officially out of retirement, it seems.

B and I decided to spend the month of February revisiting our old friends the picture books and happily dove into the Jillian Jiggs books by Phoebe Gilman, and Matthew and the Midnight Turkeys by Allen Morgan, and Degas and the Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt, and of course a healthy dose of our beloved Robert Munsch stories, and poetry by Shel Silverstein and Dennis Lee.

With B’s head dancing with stories and poems as she drifted off to sleep, K and I settled in to read a chapter a night. We’re on chapter 7 of the first book now, and he is loving it — in no small part because it means he gets to stay up later than his sister, and he gets Mama all to himself for half an hour.

I must admit, I’m loving it, too.

I’m treasuring the half hour B and I spend going through books that she has almost outgrown, knowing that this is possibly the last time I get to read Munsch to her with a silly voice, or tumble together through poems by the incomparable Dennis Lee.

(Mind you, I’ve been wrong before. This may not be the last of anything.)

I’m treasuring the half hour K and I spend reading and discussing and struggling to make sense of a rather grim vision of a post-war world where life is a daily struggle and government is not benign or munificent, or even well-intentioned. It has led to some rather interesting discussions, to say the least.

Of course, it has put a dent into my crafting and blogging time, so you’ll have to forgive me if I’m not as present here over the next little while.

It just means I’m too busy reading out loud once again.


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