Monday, October 5, 2015

This I Believe Essay on Reading Aloud

Last Spring, Turtle wrote a "This I Believe" essay for her English Class. She chose to write about the power and influence that reading aloud has had on her life. She was required to make an audio recording of herself reading the essay as part of the assignment.

When Turtle was two, and I was pregnant with Snuggle Puppy, I was horribly sick. I spent the entire pregnancy pretty much bedridden; I lost 30 lbs from pre-pregnancy to pre-delivery. Needless to say, it was a very, very challenging time. Every week, there were six different story times at the Provo library for us to choose between, and we nearly always made it once at some point during the week. It was pretty much the only thing I consistently did with Turtle during that time. (I'm afraid that most of the days, she survived on a great deal of video watching.)

There were two wonderful gentlemen - Mr. Glenn and Mr. Nathan - who ran those story times at the Provo Library, all the way back during 2002-2003. I am hoping that this blog post reaches them. Reading aloud has always been important in our family - my husband and I read aloud to each other on our honeymoon, and we love listening to audio books and reading aloud to each other when traveling - and those story times filled in for me, meeting the read-aloud-needs of my toddler at a time when, most days, I couldn't sit up or stay awake long enough to read even a short picture book to her.

And, not that I'm a proud mom or anything, but isn't my daughter awesome? :p :D

“The young Prince was known here and there (and just about everywhere else) as Prince Brat. Not even black cats would cross his path.”

The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman, is one of my favorite books ever. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve reread the adventure of Jemmy-from-the-streets and Prince Brat, from Jemmy’s baffled, “Gaw!”s to Hold-yer-nose Billy’s garlic breath. My mom read it aloud to me when I was younger (along with a million other books).

My 12 year old brother has varied reactions every time he hears me read it. Sometimes he’ll sigh, like, ugh, not AGAIN!! or bite his lip like he really wants to ask me to stop, but knows how much I love this, so he’s caught in indecision. Other times, he’ll gasp excitedly and drop what he’s doing to come sit near me as I read. It all kind of depends on how long it’s been since the last time I read it to him, and what he’s doing when I start again.

I learned to love reading aloud from years of fluency activities at school and from hours spent listening to my mom and dad read to me when I was younger. Now I read aloud to my brothers all the time. It's a great way to be with them when I wouldn’t otherwise.

I believe in reading aloud. It’s been a core part of my family for as long as I can remember - and even before. My mom and dad took turns reading aloud from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when I was just a few months old. They read to me constantly while I was growing up, and we still spend many hours on long car trips listening to audio books. It’s just what we do; it’s who we are. It’s the way we’ve learned to communicate and discuss things with each other, and it’s the reason I have the relationship I do with my parents today. 

Spending time reading aloud to kids does more than build their relationship with their parents, though: it can make the difference between a kid who loves books and one who hates them. Because my parents read aloud to me when I was little, I decided to push my way through learning to read myself when I got to Kindergarten. If they hadn’t, I would still hate books today. 

The books I've heard and read have influenced everything in my life, from my punishments as a child (if I didn’t finish my homework, I couldn’t go to the library!) to my plans for the future. I want to be an author and create the same kinds of books that I’ve loved my entire life. If my parents hadn’t read to me, I wouldn't be who I am today. If I can write just one book, that just one parent loves enough to read to their child, I will have changed that child’s life forever. That is the power that reading aloud has, and it’s one that I’m grateful for every day.

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