When I get into a book it can be hard to get me out of it. I will often be found reading while brushing my teeth, getting dressed or making dinner. I think that is why I have come to love my e-reader so much. It’s no-hands reading. I have even been known to upsize the font and prop it on a treadmill during a run.
I’ve now added audio books into the mix so that I can “read” while completing menial chores such as grocery shopping and washing dishes. It’s also a really great way to drown out the din of our house when my brain needs some space.
My favourite way to read, however, is to my kids.
We have just finished Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, which is the fifth book in the series. For the uninitiated, J. K. Rowling wrote her seven books so that they increase in size and difficulty with each one. The story also gets progressively darker as the fight between good and evil heats up and some well-loved character are killed.
When these books were first being published, a child would read the first one and then have to wait a year until book two was released. Then they would wait another year for book three, and so on. The time between the last three books stretched even longer to make a total of ten years between the first book’s release and the final installment. The seven-year-old who started reading about Harry would be seventeen before he got his hands on the series conclusion.
This is not the case with my boys. As soon as we finished the first book they were clamoring for the second. We did insist on some delay between the books so that we could work some other chapter books into the mix, but still we had completed the first three in no time. They were light and fun to read, and my character voices were awesome.
Now, as we are approaching the final books, the language is more complicated and the narratives are elaborate and intense. I’m insisting on a longer break before we start on book six because our youngest is still just too young… at least that’s what I’m going to tell them.
The truth is that my throat is killing me from those big speeches of Hagrid’s. Damn, if I knew he was eventually going to become verbose I would have given him an easier voice!
As hard as it can be on my throat, I think I enjoy reading to the boys so much because of those voices. I love being able to bring a story to life for them. My husband and I have always used character voices, no matter what it is we are reading to them. In fact, my husband elicited the first giggles from our boys with his spirited rendition of the baby board book That’s Not My Dinosaur. That, my friends, is skill.
I remember when our oldest was first learning to read, he became very reluctant and stubbornly dug in his heels. When I asked him why, he burst into tears. He was scared that if he learned to read on his own, we would stop reading to him. I promised that I would always read to him, no matter what. Today there are piles of chapter books in his room, in both French and English.
My parents are a big part of my love of reading. They are also voracious readers, so I grew up in a house where laying on the couch and reading all afternoon was a perfect thing to do on a weekend. I also have fantastic memories of our family vacations in the car when my sister and I were very young. Dad would spend hours preparing for the trip, reading storybook after storybook into a tape recorder. He even rang a little bell to tell us when to turn the pages. My sister and I had homemade audiobooks!
I very wisely married a man who also loves to read. In fact, each December when it is time to start the Christmas baking, my husband pulls up a chair and begins reading aloud from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Each night, as I cut out cookies and fill pans with squares, he reads a stave. By the end of the fifth night, and the fifth stave, the baking is finished, Tiny Tim has blessed us all and I am filled with gratitude
Read aloud to someone you love. It is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give.