Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents"-Emilie Buchwald

[I'll expound upon the quote later, but first I want to start with a story...]

Last night at the E Street House:
[Setting is around 11:30 p.m., Elizabeth and Bethany's bedroom]

After some random chit-chat about serial killers and terrorists*
Elizabeth: Do you mind if I keep my light on to finish my book?
Bethany: No, that's fine. Betty [stuffed sheep] and I will watch you.
Elizabeth: Do you want me to just read it out loud?
Bethany: Yes.
Elizabeth: Seriously?
Bethany: Yes.

I then proceeded to read the last two chapters of Prince Caspian aloud to my roommate (and her stuffed sheep), and loved it. I grew up in a reading family and everyday after lunch, we would eat apple slices while my mom read aloud to us. This has become a treasured memory for me, and something I hope to do in the future, not only with my own children, but with my husband as well. Reading out loud isn't just for kids--I have a good friend who reads out loud with her friends at school.

For the last week or so, I have been pondering what makes it so powerful and unique from reading silently. Obviously, reading out loud is generally shared with someone else (unless one is listening to an audio book). You also need to pay more attention as you have to read each word. I know I sometimes skim things, or read them too quickly, but last night while reading out loud, I literally stopped at least twice because something in the story happened that I didn't expect.

Last year at school, I was able to both participate in and experience an event in which the entire Bible was read out loud from start to finish, 24/7 without stopping. Its name escapes me, but it was powerful to go into a room and just hear the Bible being read. I got to read part of the Old Testament and was there when the last verses of Revelation were uttered. Granted, the Bible, being God-breathed and "sharper than any two-edged sword" is more piercing and powerful than any other book that has ever been written. Still, though, I think that reading even non-biblical books out loud is an experience unlike anything else.

I find the quote used in this post's title to be quite true and inspiring. It will most likely grace the walls or bookshelves of my house someday. I am trying to make reading more of a priority in my life, a discipline which I hope will bear fruit in my life not only as a single woman, but also, Lord willing, as a someday wife and mother.

Potentially useful links:
"On Reading Widely
"I read to my kids" [facebook group]
Books suggestions from Jim Trelease

*=Bethany recently read books about serial killers and terrorists. That is why we were talking about them. Not because we like them or anything like that.


Jacob Douvier said...

Some friends of mine would read That Hideous Strength on the way to and from church. I always enjoyed it when they would ride with me.
Last year, I took a class where we began every class with a reading of some poetry: either some T.S. Eliot (on fridays) or Chesteron's Ballad of the White Horse, read by someone in the class. Good times.

Thea said...

I love reading out loud! When Mitch and I were engaged, we read together A LOT, and though it's harder now to sit down and finish a book together, there are constantly snippets of things being passed back and forth as one of us reads something we know the other might find intriguing.

Because I'm a fast reader, I also find it helpful to read aloud - I'm forced to slow down and acknowledge each word without skimming ahead or reading a passage without processing it.

I suspect I was the one responsible, indirectly, for that serial killers conversation, by the way.

Thea said...

PS - We also read to our kid already, even though the baby probably has no idea what we're doing. It's awesome.

I just love the idea that the baby will know our voices and, hopefully, some excellent passages of Scripture and literature before it's even born. So cool.

Elizabeth said...

Jacob--excellent way to pass the time in the car. And very cool about your class.

Thea--yes, you are to blame for the serial killer conversation. ;) Like you, I am a fast reader so reading out loud is good for me, too. And reading to your unborn child is awesome.

Anonymous said...

My roomies and are reading a chapter of "Ella Enchanted" out loud whenever we go to bed at the same time. It's wonderful! - Amy