So now that we have kids, we read to them as much as possible in the hopes of dragooning them into this vision.
I was emphatically never a drama kid; too shy and methodical, particularly once adolescent mortification set in. So I’ve been a little surprised to discover how fun some books can be to read aloud. Partly it’s just hard to be self-conscious around the six-and-under set, and partly I think there’s a secret genius to writing good read-aloud books.
Take Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches and Other Stories, for example. I never get tired of reading it; at this point I could stand up and declaim any part of the book from memory. I’ve always had a particular soft spot for “What Was I Scared Of?” i.e. the one about the pale green pants with nobody inside them – the nightscapes are delightfully atmospheric, especially considering there are four colours involved. I mean, look at this:
One that surprised me was The Hobbit. I have a nice oversized copy with full-colour illustrations throughout sitting on the shelf. My then-four-year-old, Rose, was a big fan of Beatrix Potter, so I figured she might enjoy it despite the winding British style, which I found very dry when I first read it in grade five. Once I got going, it actually rolled quite trippingly off the tongue, and by the time we got to Bilbo’s conversation with Smaug, I was full on in love (as was Rose!) Ursula Le Guin writes a lot about the beauty of Tolkien’s prose, but it wasn’t until I read it aloud that I understood what she was talking about. Seriously, I challenge anyone to read that scene without discovering a secret dramatic flair.
Our younger daughter is coming up on four years old now, while Rose – now six – pretty much reads on her own. One of these days I am going to have to try cracking one of these open again and see if I can snuggle up with the two of them a chapter at a time. Geeky bookish parenting daydream: ENGAGE.