Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Reading Aloud

I was taught in college that the two dominant factors in whether children read well are their basic intelligence and whether they were read to, and that even those are related. I don't know if that's actually true or whether I just like the idea, but it makes an intuitive sense.

We read to our children on the day they were born, launching a fanatic interaction of words, family, text, and faith that in the main defined us until we adopted two teenagers from Romania. (Life takes odd branchings, doesn't it?)

I recommend Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook as a matter of course. But the Wymans have their own curious additions to the topic.

You cannot always project what will read well aloud. I started LOTR with Jonathan before he was five, and it almost didn't take, as it was out of range. I abridged and reworded somewhat as we went at first, and gradually stretched him into it, but I recommend waiting longer. I feared Watership Down would be too descriptive and slow, but it worked well. Susan Cooper turned out to be deadly aloud.

James Thurber was a joy. King Pellinore's battle in the first part of The Once and Future King was marvelous. Tracy's yearly reading of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, complete with tears in the last chapter, will be repeated for grandchildren such as they ever exist and live near.

I just love doing voices. One of the half-dozen reasons for my permanent raspy voice now is doing long sections of Gollum every four years. And accents -- lovely accents from every corner of the British Isles. Some writers, like Brian Jaques, give you enough clues in the text to build a voice and accent (That's called "eye-dialect" in linguistics). There's nothing I'd rather do, and it's the one thing I greatly miss of the boys being younger.

1 comment:

Lanky_Bastard said...

The Hobbit reads well out-loud.


I imagine the others are harder.