In the old days ... and the older days before those ... reading aloud
was a family and classroom and summer camp and sometimes a romantic activity.
Maybe this still goes on in remote quiet corners or at
sparsely-filled public gatherings. If so, I applaud (quietly so as to
Parlors and park benches and linen-tossed beds, I suspect, witnessed
many a poem recited to and by lovers. Classrooms still ring with
noteworthy speeches like Abe Lincoln's 'Gettysburg Address' and Martin
Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream'. Libraries bring pre-schoolers,
teens, and adults alike together with storytimes, poetry slams, and
book club discussions. The devout come together over religious
readings and a vast array of settings.
In today's apartments and homes and RVs and dorm rooms and barracks,
what are we reading together or for another? Do we pass a newspaper
around or share segments over breakfast? Do we even have breakfast? Do
we gather to read chapters 'to be continued ...' in the evening,
sharing the reading? Do we read to our children at bedtime? Do we tell
a friend about what we're reading as often as we share a laugh from TV
How do we chose a read-aloud book in a family setting? Does it need
to be an old classic (there are so many great ones)? How about that
series popular with your middle-schooler? Have any of us adults really
read a youth fantasy or chiller chapter book, as adults? Ask the kids.
Will they share? What if family members took turns picking? What if
the audience, small or large, took on the sound effects? What if there
were some ad-libs to learn who's listening? How about history? A
cookbook? Nature essays? Mad-libs? Mysteries and ghost tales?
This an open activity. Anyone can do it. Grandparents or older
neighbors especially who maybe read less as their eyes become weary or
blurry and whose visitors are less frequent ... yeah, we could read to
those folks. Stories and essays in progress can be read to others,
toward getting feedback. Those with reading disabilities might have
strong listening abilities.
Reading aloud ... not a new idea, simply a window to re-open among
us. Booksellers and librarians and teachers all have good ideas about
reading aloud. Just ask,or go with what you know. Enjoy!
Lucy Wells, Head Hedgehog (Smallest Brain) at Hedgehog's Whimsey Books