I’ve been blessed with four amazing daughters, and I have to say that, despite my general unease and unpreparedness for being a mother when I first gave birth, one of the things I most looked forward to at that time was being able to read to my children. I wasn’t a big fan of newborns or even older babies; I was eager to teach and talk to little people. Over time I did get better at appreciating the fun parts of having babies around, but I still think that my favorite part of raising children is teaching them and interacting verbally. What fun!
As a reader myself, sharing books with them was a big part of that teaching and communicating. I admit, however, when I first started reading aloud to my now-16-year-old, I was not a fan of the ABC and 1-2-3 books that we had to read OVER AND OVER. And over. And over. And … well, you get it. And over. Gah! Richard Scarry, cute. But I can only count so many bunnies and watermelons up till 3 or 4 or even 10 until my head’s about to explode like a ripe melon hit by a sledgehammer. I was SO excited when she got past that stage and I could read actual stories to her. Then we went through the stage of the very short stories that we read over and over and over. Even Dr. Seuss started to get on my nerves a bit. No, Mom, no. Don’t say that!
At any rate, I toughed it out and read to my girls every night. Unfortunately, I will also admit that as the third and fourth came along, I ended up getting a little busy and just overwhelmed to read to every single one of them every single night. My youngest hasn’t had the privilege of me reading to her every night before she nods off. The best she’s had was me reading to her in the middle of the day just before naptime. Now that this littlest one is in kindergarten, I’m going to have to figure out a good time to read to her and with her regularly. ‘Cause for a while there a few years back, I really was going bed to bed and room to room at 8:00 at night and reading with one girl at a time. An hour later, I was definitely ready for bed myself. Alone time with the husband? Important, yes. Did we get much of it? Not really.
So the routine’s gotten shaken up, but I’ve still logged many very pleasurable hours reading with the girls, at various stages and differing ages. Even my oldest enjoys having me come in at night sometimes as she’s finishing up schoolwork and Facebook-chatting and all that kind of teen stuff and lie down next to her on her double bed and read aloud as she winds down and relaxes to the sound of my voice. With her, I’ve read some of A Tale of Two Cities or Huck Finn or All Quiet on the Western Front, all assignments for classes, or we’ve pulled out a few old favorites for some fun. Maybe I’ll even read to her the night before she gets married someday. It’ll be the best way to remember our time together as mother and daughter at home.
My third daughter is an absolutely voracious reader and has been wolfing down books this summer in particular. We’ve had fun with a few in particular: I read Freaky Friday, one of my favorites from when I was a pre-teen long ago, aloud to all of the girls who wanted to listen some months back, and we all laughed and chortled and chuckled together at all the funny things that happened (Boris and his beetloaf … funny stuff, man). This past month or so, this third girl and I have been reading the very charming and quotable books about the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood. I am of the opinion that read-alouds are most fun when they provide many opportunities for giggling and lines to quote later as a shared experience. Daddy has no idea what we’re referring to, which is different from all of our shared family movie quotes.
I read Eragon aloud with my oldest when she was probably about 10, and it took us six months to get through. But we enjoyed it. The movie version came out not long after, and she and I joined together in great distress and disgust when the movie version was absolutely horrible. What a shame!
I admit that though I do have children of varying ages, picture books up through teen and adult books, and I do a ton of reading on my own, young adult books aren’t my specialty. I have lots of blogger friends who really know a LOT about the middle-grade and young adult genre. So I think my last point here is: what do you think qualifies as great read-aloud material for middle readers, in particular? I think that something of a modest length and with some silliness is extra handy. More “serious” material is fine as well, but the silly factor makes it lots of fun. Any ideas?