It's a day that I know is coming soon but I'm trying not to think about, because it makes me sad. It's a day that I can't imagine the consequences of. It's a day that Alice Ozma's Dad in the first chapter of her book, The Reading Promise refers to as the Curse of Mr Henshaw (You'll need to read the book to discover why...). (Read an excerpt from the book now, but it won't explain the curse.)
It is the day that I have to stop read aloud to my daughter.
And like Alices Dad, I don't want to stop reading aloud to my daughter, because reading aloud to my daughter is what I do best.
And I don't want to stop.
Our day is filled with read-aloud opportunities. We have family read-alouds; bedtime read-alouds; free read-alouds; school read-alouds. We even have read-alouds that she reads to me. Despite the fact that they make my voice so hoarse and scratchy that I can barely talk, I love them all. I don't want to miss a single page of a single book. And I don't want to miss a single minute of the time we spend together in reading them. Although we are not slaves to a routine, each of these has its own special place and its own special traditions. Family read-alouds are in the car. Bedtime read-alouds include huggle-time, and lots of time to talk over our day. Free read-alouds are on the kitchen sofa. Mostly. These are the most variable, probably. School read-alouds happen in the sitting room by the fire in winter and in the kitchen or outside on the deck in warm weather. Almost every single day we spend time reading together. And we love it so.
So far, the only books I've 'allowed' Jemimah to read alone are ones we've already read, or books I'm not interested in, and there are relatively few of those - the 3rd and 4th of the Boxcar Children series; the later Ramona books by Beverley Cleary; The Clarice Bean books by Lauren Child; the second two books of The Fleurville Trilogy by Sophie, comtesse de Ségur. I let her read the third of Elizabeth Enright's Melendy Quartet in a moment of insanity, and have been trying to find time to catch her up ever since. Likewise Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh and Speedy by Colin Thiele. Why was I silly enough to let her read those without me?
Can you see my problem?
See, I can't even bear her to read her school texts without me. Well? Would you if they included Robinson Crusoe and Kidnapped and The Family at Misrule and Mates at Billabong and James Cook, Royal Navy by George Finkel and Bennelong by Joan Phipson? Could you leave her to read these alone? Now I am not entirely a failure. I do allow her to read It Couldn't Just Happen by Lawrence Richards and George Washington's World by Joanna Foster, but this is only because I so far manage to pre-read these each day before her so that when she comes to me to narrate I can discuss knowledgeably with her what she has learned. (Of course that's the reason!) She reads her read-aloud to me too...
The day that this delightful state of affairs must end is looming large. While I hope that like Alice's Dad I am able to continue nighttime reading aloud to Jemimah for many many years yet, this selfish habit of mine has to stop. And soon.
Here's what Charlotte Mason has to say:
The most common and the monstrous defect in the education of the day is that children fail to acquire the habit of reading. Knowledge is conveyed to them by lessons and talk, but the studious habit of using books as a means of interest and delight is not acquired. This habit should be begun early; so soon as the child can read at all, he should read for himself, and to himself, history, legends, fairy tales, and other suitable matter. He should be trained from the first to think that one reading of any lesson is enough to enable him to narrate what he has read, and will thus get the habit of slow, careful reading, intelligent even when it is silent, because he reads with an eye to the full meaning of every clause...Now I am quite capable of ignoring the well-meaning advice of others if I don't think it applies to me and my situation, but I'm afraid Miss Mason has hit the nail on the head here. Doesn't she always? (Wry grin.) These words resonate with me, and I know she is right! And I don't want my daughter to shirk the labour of reading for herself. I don't!
...It is a delight to older people to read aloud to children, but this should be only an occasional treat and indulgence, allowed before bedtime, for example. We must remember the natural inertness of a child's mind; give him the habit of being read to, and he will steadily shirk the labour of reading for himself; indeed, we all like to be spoon-fed with our intellectual meat, or we should read and think more for ourselves and be less eager to run after lectures.
Charlotte Mason Home Education p 227 (emphasis mine)
So far, Jemimah does read. And so far she loves to read. I like to think both her parents have been a good role models there. But I can also see that soon I must pass the responsibility of reading over to her, and hang onto only the vestiges of this wonderful time for myself. It makes me want to cry, writing that.
Alice and her Dad's Reading Streak lasted an amazing 3218 nights. That's consecutive nights of reading. It was a wonderful time of togetherness for this Dad and his daughter. The streak was okay because it was only a bedtime read. Sometimes it was only ten minutes long. It's what I need to aim for: One or two read-alouds a day.
One day soon it is going to happen.
But not now.
Today I'm just going to pretend that everything is okay.
Because it is. Right now.
I'm currently reading The Reading Promise. Not aloud. To myself. I recommend it. Which is not surprising. You know I love books about books.
You can learn more about it here.
Alice's blog is here.
Do you like reading aloud as much as I do?
Maybe I'm ill.
Do I need psychological help?