We sat on cold tile floors, Jon lounging in a blue caftan, extending his 6’4″ body over a couple of red pillows for comfort, while I leaned my back against the concrete walls, upright, to better hold open the pages of the novel. The Far Pavillions by M. M. Kaye brought us spices and India, romance and war. I read aloud to Jon sometimes for three hours in a day while we waited for the hot, slow summer weeks to roll by so we could leave the country and head out to sunny Spain for our missionary camp.
The Far Pavillions wasn’t the first book I read aloud to Jon. When we were engaged, I read Shogun to him, every page. Reading aloud became a shared point of connection and escape. We eventually worked through several of James Clavell’s novels, most of M.M. Kaye’s and a few of John LeCarre’s.
Once we returned to the states, life became hectic with the increase of children, Jon working away from home, homeschooling. When I had just given birth to our fifth child, we decided to give it another whirl. We read aloud in the evenings after the other four kids were in bed. Instead of TV or videos, we’d snuggle in blankets while I’d nurse Caitrin, and Jon would read to me. Eventually, I’d yank the book back from him as he has this habit of getting so wrapped up in the story, he starts skipping words in order to get ahead. It’s not as much fun for the listener at that point. 🙂
What is fun, though, is reading together. Even today, while we don’t have as much time as we once did to read aloud lengthy novels without interruption, we still find ourselves reading aloud bits of articles, paragraphs out of books, quotes, poems, essays. It’s not enough to say to each other: “Read this article when you get a chance.” For some reason, we just have to do it out loud and talk about it right then and see the reaction of the other person as we are reading or it isn’t the same.
Reading to our kids, then, was a no-brainer. And it never occurred to me that a time might come when they were too old to be read to. After all, I’d been reading to a full-grown male for most of my married life!
With the approach of the release of the final Harry Potter book, my kids are at fever pitch around here trying to determine how many copies we must purchase in order to make it possible for as many people to read it at once as want to. I’ve read all six aloud, the first three twice (at two different times to two different sets of our kids). The older kids want to read the newest book right away, to themselves. But the younger ones have already asked me to read it to them like I’ve done with the other six books.
There’s something about that shared time that transcends reading to myself.
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