Monday, June 14, 2010

Reading Aloud

It's something we're doing more of, though I've only really ever read aloud to Rachel when she was younger, growing up. Jack grew up in a different culture that didn't include the books I know best, so we're finding some to read together, since he's interested, and I am, too...ones more from my neck of the woods. Because of circumstances, his childhood bypassed many of the books I think of as classics. As a teen, he was so thirsty to catch up to so much lost (to him up till then) literature that he took one summer and did nothing but hole up in his room and read all the ones he was most curious about. (Much to his mom's displeasure at the time...she believed he needed to be out working, but he felt he may never have the chance again.)

The books we'll read together can be anything, and in fact I plan to include some classic children's stories, since in my very biased opinion those are some of the best books written. There are so many movies out based on classic books, but as always the actual literature just can't compare (usually) with the movie form...the books win hands down. That's the case with the movie version of The Yearling, even though it's replete with some of the silver screen greats such as Gregory Peck. In comparison with the written story, the movie is a flat, single-dimensional stand-in, and not really even in the same category. The only exceptions right now to my preference of Book-over-movie version are some of the earlier English authors whose older English is harder to do justice to aloud (for me) rather than when just reading it to myself. Dickens and Austen fall into those categories at present. I don't know that we're ready for a Pride and Prejudice or Bleak House read-aloud, but we have the longer versions of the movie dramas till we are. And of course plenty of true history and bio books to fufill the testosterone quota necessary if things get too stacked in the Romance department for Jack's male taste :)

But as I said, this time we started with The Yearling, mostly because I'd finished several books by and about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings...fascinating stuff. She was a bit of a prima donna in life before taking some career and life hits, and finally ending up down in Florida, buying a farm deep in the scrub and enthusiastically mingling with the native Floridians (crackers, as the poorest were termed) and learning first-hand about the native plants, animals, and backwoods survival even while trying her hand at managing an orange grove for the first time. She wrote inquisitively and intuitively. I remember having read The Yearling as a child, and had a totally different feeling about it now after having read it (to both of us) as an adult...I appreciate it more from an adult perspective, which is to say I love how the same book can speak to different ages and at different levels if it's well enough written.

We really enjoyed it. We don't shy away from books still preserved in their historical vernacular (my polite way of saying they're written in language not considered appropriate today...books such as Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn, etc). They point out some things I'm appreciative of, such as how far we've come in areas of civil rights, etc. But I don't believe in cleaning up the past by rewriting it. Don't know how I got off an that tangent...just one of my pet peeves in reading...I like books preserved the way their authors wrote them.

We finished up The Yearling, and doggone if I wasn't mopping my face and trying to hold myself together by the last paragraph. I kept taking long pauses, trying to collect myself so as not to lose the momentum in reading, and to finish it well instead of with some big, ugly sobs...heh :) I won't type it here, in case you've never read the book, but it's a coming-of-age story that has characters as complex as any in real life, so anyone can relate to it and to the theme of life being full of choices that are painful but are necessary.

Anyway, good book, and we laughed at a lot of the parts.

Now we'll choose the next book to read aloud....all suggestions welcome!

Any kind of book is fair game, anything from War and Peace to Hop on Pop, Machiavelli to Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel, Hardy to Bombeck.

Whoa...have I turned into my grandparents?? They used to read things of interest from Reader's Digest to each other. Hmmmm



small farm girl said...

Don't forget Where The Red Fern Grows. That will interest a boy's mind. That was the first book that my dad actually read without it being assigned to him for homework. He was in his forties. lol. Now he reads all the time. Have a good time reading!

Lindie said...

I love reading best of all, even more than gardening and cooking. It would be hard to pick a book that is a favorite as I read indiscrimately. I have several books I read over and over. From Harry Potters books to Atlas Shrugged.

Irma said...

Reading aloud is a forgotten art form / passtime that needs to be preserved. Stephen King explored this dying art with his release of The Green Mile; each thin installment was published roughly a month apart, just like an old time serial, and he encouraged readers to actually read to each other.

My first husband and I lived several hours away from The Big City at that time, and so I had ample opportunity to read to him on our way back from our trip to the book store. We got so caught up in the spoken book that, when a particularly long chapter was published, and we actually hit our drive way with 30 pages still to go? We sat in the car for half an hour while I finished.

My second husband has "read" the entire Harry Potter series without ever holding a book in his hand, thanks to yours truly.

Oh, and if you feel weird reading "archaic" English books aloud, just go for it anyway! You will soon get used to the rhythm of the words (so says the girl who just finished reading -- although not aloud -- "Pamela", published in 1740.)