One of my favorite memories is being read to by either my mom or my dad. They have very different reading styles. My mom went for the dramatic, doing the voices and the drama. My dad had this endearing semi-monotone, altered only by volume.
We all loved both styles, though I think Dad got a bit of an edge because he worked long hours when I was kid, so having him read with a rare treat. (Being a mom is a tough gig, but that’s a different blog post.) I can still hear him reading “The Cremation of Sam McGee.”
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
And don’t get me started on hearing my mom read “The Highwayman.”
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.
I’m a huge reader, so there was a point where I could have easily read this to myself, but the experience of being read to—it is very different from reading to yourself. Besides the warmth of love, the passing on of a legacy of loving words, the text becomes a shared experience. The way my parents shared the words expanded my view of the story.
In fact, when I was pregnant with my first, I took a road trip with my parents and my mom helped us pass the time between bathroom stops by reading “How Babies Get Born,” from Good Housekeeping. I laughed so hard, I almost didn’t make it to the next bathroom stop. And the memory stayed with me, enough so that I looked it up when I got home and saved a copy. The story was written by Barbara Robinson and is collected in My Brother Louis Measure Worms: And Other Louis Stories. I hunted down and saved every story of hers that I could find, because I loved her brother Louis stories.
It led me to her The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which became a family tradition for our family as I tried to pass on to share my love of books and shared reading to my children. When we moved to New Orleans, we added The Cajun Night Before Christmas to our traditional Christmas Eve reading, with the Christmas story from the scriptures for our big finish.
Our Christmas Eve listening served another purpose. It helped quiet things down and ease the kids into actually sleeping so Santa could arrive. LOL Of course, our kids grew up and we modified our Christmas Eve reading line-up, though we still finish with the scriptures. Do I hope some of our stories become part of our grand babies Christmas Eve? Of course. But their parents will craft their traditions to fit their circumstances and needs.
I do know reading—and reading aloud—will be there in some form, because their parents love books, too.
I can’t say audio books are new to me. We listened to the Harry Potter books on road trips, then last year, I “discovered” audio books as an adult. While listening to an audio book is not the same experience as family reading together, it is still a shared experience and one I’m coming to enjoy more and more. I was particularly delighted to discover The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is now available in audio, so I can revisit a happy family memory without inflicting it on my grown children. LOL
And I’m really liking the fact that, with audio books, I can turn non-reading time into reading time. And reading time makes painful time pass fast. Really. Time actually speeds up. Unless you’re Data. Then it stays the same.
So how about it? Have you tried audio books? Considered the joys of being read to? It doesn’t make you younger, but yeah, makes time fly. What are your holiday reads? Please share! I love comments and all comments are entered into my monthly drawing for an AnaBanana gift basket that goes great with ANY book. Really. Any book. Winner is announced the first blog post of the new month. 🙂
Pauline was quite surprised that she didn’t mind hearing her books read to her, though there was an adjustment period. And she’s delighted that almost all her books are available in audio. Her only, sort of Christmas book is Out of Time, which recently got a shiny new cover. For more info on all of Pauline’s books—audio and digital—check out her website. And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter. It’s only to announce new releases.
“…the story is magical, romantic, and funny.” Over My Dead Body Reviews
Prime members can also borrow it for free. Used print editions floating around out there, as well.