— Emilie Buchwald
— Strickland Gillilan
Mama never stooped to reading easy books to us, and I don't think she ever skipped the hard words. She wisely surmised that we would soon learn, somehow, what the big words meant, and in the meantime they didn't matter. It was of little consequence that if we didn't understand every little detail--the beauty of the words would rub off on us anyway. That is not to say that Mama didn't have secret misgivings--she has often admitted that when she read Hans Brinker to us, she really thought it was far over our heads. Funny thing is, that is the one book I remember thrilling me to my fingertips. We turned it into a unit-study (Ah! The beauty of homeschooling!) and learned all about the queer Dutch houses on their stilts and the bustling canals instead of crowded streets. Some of my fondest, coziest memories come from snuggling up on the couch, and oh! To get that coveted spot right next to Mama where we could lean against her soft side and follow along in the book as we learned to read.
I fear reading aloud is a lost art, and yet what a pleasant pastime! It is one of those forgotten pleasures, like letter-writing, that we would do well to revive. It brings a group of people together, their thoughts, dreams, and emotions wrapped round the same story. Is there anything sweeter than experiencing a story again with a dear friend? I well know the glorious sensation of discussing a book with one of my sweet sisters in Christ, reliving the intricacies of the plot, the characters, what we thought was going to happen and what in actuality did....*happy, happy, nostalgic sigh*
I have fond dreams of someday, in my house o' dreams, reading aloud to my husband some chilly fall night when we haven't any troubles to pressure us and nothing to do but please ourselves. ;) I do hope he'll enjoy being read aloud to.
"When Mother reads aloud, the past
Seems real as every day;
I hear the tramp of armies vast,
I see the spears and lances cast,
I join the thrilling fray;
Brave knights and ladies fair and proud
I meet when Mother reads aloud."
~"When Mother Reads Aloud" Author Unknown
But there is an art to it. The reader-aloud who halts and mispronounces words and reads in a monotone so fast it sounds like Chinese is not pleasant to listen to. If you would have interested listeners, you must be an interesting reader. Go ahead and liberate your fancy. Use accents. Choose a different voice for each character and maintain it. Read the descriptions with a soft, flowing voice and try to put the beauty of the words into your tones. Practice on your siblings! I recall reading The Hobbit aloud to my younger sisters--they loved it, after they got past their string of perpetual questions. The famous mother/sister answer I've found to be appropriate to all occasions is: "Well if you listen you might find the answer out!" :D
Here is a list of my favorite books to be read aloud as a child. Oh, thank you Mama for reading to us! :)
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Little Princess by " " "
Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johanne Wyss
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
Hinds Feet on the High Places by Hannah Hunard
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes