When M was younger, he had a book called You Read to Me, I”ll Read to You. The book was written so a child and an adult could each read small sections aloud to each other. I don’t recall the story, just the pleasure of sitting with M in the blue rocking chair and reading to each other. We sat for hours, reading in that chair
These days, M pretty much reads on his own. On the rare occasions he asks me to read with him, I will sit beside him in his bed and we will each read our respective books. We are together and we are reading but we not reading together.
In September, when M`s teacher asked for parents to come in and listen to the students read aloud, I immediately volunteered. Every Tuesday morning, before I go to work, I go into M`s class and listen to 4 or 5 of his classmates read aloud to me. Their teacher encourages them to keep a book in their desks, so it usually just a matter of finding a quiet place to sit. This is sometimes easier said than done., as the school is always humming with action. Last week, we tried to sit outside the library, but there was a class practicing drumming in the library. Then we tried sitting in a corner of the hallway that contains a couple of chairs, but one of the other classes was doing an activity nearby. I am hard to hearing, so on mornings like last week, it is a bit of a challenge to hear what each child is saying.
Once in a while, one of them will need help pronouncing a word, but mostly I listen and they read. It is fun to see what they are reading from one week to the next. Sometimes, I will listen to a couple of the Harry Potter books, a few pages of one of the Hunger Games Trilogy. or one of the books from the How to train Your Dragon series. No one has ever read from the same book as one of their classmates in the same week.
The most popular genre seems to be fantasy/adventure. Interestingly, there is very little difference between what the boys read versus the girls. When I peruse the children’s section of our local library, there are clearly plenty of “girly“ books – about fairies, princesses and animals. But the majority of the kids in M`s class are reading books with darker, complex storylines. This may be a function of their ages – 10 to 12. They are moving away from children`s books and are not quite into the YA category.
Obviously their teacher has made reading a priority. And I suspect he encourages the kids to move outside their comfort zones and explore other genres. Although M won`t usually read to me (there are also a couple of other parents who regularly come in) , I have been surprised by what he is reading – at home, he favours graphic novels and non-fiction. But at school, he`s consistently reading big thick chapter books.
I am pretty happy with my life these days, but this is one of the best hours of my week. Sure, we sometimes struggle to find a spot that is conducive to reading aloud. But ever since I was a small child, reading has always been one of my favourite activities – I always have a book on the go, usually more than one. But I am not particularly good at reading aloud – probably because I read very quickly and I tend to jump ahead and lose my place. But reading aloud is a good skill to have, as it strengthens your overall reading skill. Pl;us, everyone has to read something aloud at least once in their lives. But more than helping the kids with their reading, I love being able to spend those few minutes, listening to each of them tell me a story. No matter how much chaos is going around us, we are connecting through the words on the page. The power of the written word indeed.