Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Read-Aloud Streak

For those of you who’ve been following along for awhile, you already know how passionately I believe in reading aloud together.

I’m privileged to serve on the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee, and one of the great pleasures I derive from the many hours we spend together discussing books is when one of the members says, “Just listen to the language here,” or “look how playful the rhythms are in this section,” and he or she proceeds to read aloud the author’s words. To sit back and let the words wash over me is sheer heaven. I have never outgrown it. And if you are truly honest with yourself, you haven’t outgrown it either. There is nothing like the sound of a true storyteller’s voice.

That brings me to the piece I discovered in last Sunday’s New York Times. A father and daughter had started what they deemed, “The Streak”—a read-aloud streak. Kristen and Jim Brozina began to read aloud together on November 11, 1997, when Kristen was in fourth grade, and read for 3,218 straight nights until her first day of college. At a time when their family’s composition was changing (Kristen’s mother left the family, and her older sister left for college), this father-daughter read-aloud ritual became a stabilizing force for them both.

And what did I think of? Another parent and child who share a love of books and, more specifically, poetry: Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. They share a love of writing poetry, too, and include some of their own works in Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies, illustrated by the wonderful James McMullan. Music is another powerful way into words and literacy, too, and the mother-daughter selectors include a wide range of song lyrics, not only diverse in their uplifting or melancholy tones, but also in their level of sophistication. There is plenty here for the entire family to enjoy.

Who knows, as you gather next week for Passover or Easter, you may be inspired to start a “Streak” of your own…

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