Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Family Literary Tradition

My sister, Elizabeth, read to me all the time when we were growing up.  When we were really young, she read picture books, like Norman The Doorman and Tell Me A Mitzi.  When we were older, she moved on to chapter books.  My favorites included the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series or Judy Blume books.  Elizabeth read aloud with great speed and I loved listening to her voice while I played with toys or took a bath.  I never had any problems understanding her quick tempo, but my parents often wondered how I could possibly follow along.   I'm a pretty fast talker and my mother once suspected that my fast talking was a direct result of Elizabeth's fast reading.  Perhaps.   

 Elizabeth was still reading to me when I was in Junior High and she was in high school.  Elizabeth would sit at the kitchen table and read aloud while I made chocolate chip cookies or some other baked product.  That's how I was first introduced to J.D. Salinger.  She started with Catcher In The Rye and then worked her way through Franny & Zooey and The Nine Stories.  I absolutely loved it and I still can't read Zooey Glass' dialogue without hearing Elizabeth's voice and inflections.

A few nights ago, Josie and I arrived at the most stressful point in the book we were reading together:  Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azakaban.  I love this third book in the Harry Potter series, 

(AND  HERE COMES A SPOILER, if you haven't read the books... but then again, if you haven't.  Good heavens.  It's been out for years.  What on earth have you been waiting for.) 

but the part when they follow Ron & the black dog into the Shrieking Shack and we find out that Ron's rat, Scabbers, has been Peter Petigrew this WHOLE TIME, and then Snape comes in.... well.  You can just rock me to sleep after reading all THAT.  The stress almost kills me.  

I usually read a chapter to Josie before bedtime, but that evening, the suspense was just too great.  I quit reading early and made a mental note to myself to have Gordy do the bedtime reading the following night.  But then Georgia came in - she'd been listening from the hallway - and asked if she could read the rest of the chapter to Josie.  I gladly handed over the book and left the scene.

I kept listening from the laundry room where I folded some towels.  Georgia reads quickly and she doesn't stumble over words or dialogue.  She doesn't have Elizabeth's voice but her reading style is pretty similar.  I found myself ditching the towels and moving back into the room to listen.

Josie was leaning against her bed, playing with a Barbie doll.  Georgia was flying through the pages, moving through the stressful parts and onto the happier conclusion.  I was sitting by the door, completely enthralled.

The whole experience took me back to 1985.  I'm so glad this family literary tradition continues.


Shelley Dade @ Yall Twins said...

It's a great tradition indeed! I'm always amazed with the power a book holds. Whether it's teaching an important life lesson through pages filled with wizardry or showing readers how people deal with certain circumstances via a memoir, there's always something great to learn. The fact that it can be shared in the manner of a read-aloud to get your children to bond reinforces my amazement. Thanks for sharing, Martha!

Martha said...

You are so welcome - and so very true! Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment, Shelley!

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