Reading Aloud to the Kids

Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain are fun to read aloud. The characters are distinct and the character descriptions suggest different voices I can be using. It is fun when I’ve done a voice enough that it falls into place automatically when the character has dialog. Alexander is pretty good for this since the characters have distinct speech patterns. Pratchett is also good. One of my very favorite books to read aloud is Larger Than Life Lara by Dandi Mackall. The first person narrator has such a fun voice. Even reading silently you can hear it in your head.

I’m not sure whether my reading aloud is actually good by an outside measure. I know it is not professional quality and I am fine with that. I just need to be good enough to hold the attention of my kids and to not be completely dry at the occasional author reading I may do. However I have noticed that the reading is more fun for me when I’m doing it smoothly. I found Mary Robinette Kowal’s series on Reading Aloud to be an incredibly useful reference to help me learn new techniques which make the reading even more enjoyable.

Enjoyment is the key. I love the moments when the kids are all staring directly me at me and they’ve stopped chewing their snack because they are so enthralled by the story I’m reading. Unfortunately the opposite also occurs. I’ll be mid-sentence and enjoying the story when one kid turns to another and begins a random conversation, or someone gets up and wanders around the room, or one child pokes another. I confess to being a bit cranky at those moments. I don’t like having the flow of the narrative interrupted that way. It takes some energy to put myself back into the characters and voices. If I have to do it more than a couple of times, I’ll just declare myself done. This too is part of the experience. I accept it and pick up the book to read again the next day. It goes well more often than not. And it is a ritual that we enjoy.