“Do the Voices!” and Other Adventures in Reading Aloud

During the summer I have one of the coolest jobs out there. I get paid to…be a mom! Well, sort of. I work as a nanny for a family with three kids. I get the joy of feeding them, making them get dressed and do their chores, taking them to various places in town, and keeping them from killing each other. Though certainly tiring, I love my job and certainly enjoy the time I get with the kids.

Recently I enrolled the kids in a summer reading program, and as a result they have been desperately trying to get their hours in so they get their prizes! It has been a good way to motivate them to read. Alongside their own reading time I’ve been enjoying reading aloud to them to help rack up even more hours.

My selection for the summer: Inkheart. And it is a fantastic book to read to children. There are evil villains, great plot twists, funny moments, and loveable heroes.

For anyone who hasn’t read it, the basic plot is the story of a young girl who finds herself trapped in the middle of an adventure straight from a book. I fear anything else might spoil the story.

So I of course have had the joy of reading it out loud, just as my mother did to my brother and I when we were children. While exciting, reading to the children has reminded me of the different predicaments of this form of reading, but also has reminded me how magical it can be. Here are the things I like best about reading out loud.

1. Doing the voices- While some people just read in a monotone voice, I have always been a person to both do and appreciate different voices for different characters. In Inkheart I use soft little girl for Meggie, deep man for Mo, sort of a cockney accent for Dustfinger, an obnoxious shrill voice for Elinor, and the rest I have yet to get to. Of course, this keeps the kids interested and makes it clear to them who is speaking if there is no indication.

2. Being dramatic- I love giving the kids looks when something sinister happens emphasizing foreshadowing to them. One of my English teachers always used to say foreshadowing should make you want to play ominous music. I usually change my tone when I narrate to indicate that something bad is happening, or will happen. Likewise at funny parts I like to laugh and playfully give them a smile so they know I find it funny too. I like letting them know I am involved in the story with them.

3. Talking about it afterwards- I love having a group discussion about it. One of my kids started discussing what they imagined a character would look like. As a child my brother and I would often speculate about this after reading a book with our mom. It’s still fun for me to do.

And of course there are problems alongside the joys. The top ones I run into.

1. Not being able to skip ahead- When I read I tend to skim, skipping over lengthy descriptions. While I love Inkheart one of its biggest weaknesses is the loooong explanations of how things look, or what the weather is doing, or how someone is feeling. While it is nicer for an older child, some of my younger ones get restless after a while. When reading by myself I can skip it and if I miss something go back, with the kids it’s hard to skip on the moment. Fortunately, I’m also reading a bit ahead of them on my own, finding parts I really do think are less important that I can skip.

2. Having to stop- I can’t read as far as I’d like to. Admittedly I can read by myself later, but sometimes I’ll get little hungry stomachs right in the middle of something exciting. I’m just glad I’ve read it before or I would be really frustrated.

3. Doing two things at once- Unfortunately the kids can’t always sit still while I read. Sometimes they bump into each other. Sometimes they’ll start playing with things. And sometimes they just get annoyed at each other and start fighting. Having to try to be on top of them while enjoying the book is a challenge.

There are many different things about reading aloud that make it different than reading alone. While there are many aspects I like, there are also ones I don’t enjoy quite as much. Still, the adventures of reading out loud and reminding myself of my childhood have been fun .

Do you like reading out loud? Did you enjoy having books read to you as a kid? Have a favorite book you remember someone reading to you? Please feel free to share!

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2 Comments

Filed under Reading

2 responses to ““Do the Voices!” and Other Adventures in Reading Aloud

  1. I was never read to as a kid but I was always told by my classmates at school that they liked it when the teacher chose me to read aloud! I sometimes do it when home alone, it kind of makes you pay attention to the book more.

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