I’ve always been a story teller. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been telling tales. When other kids brought things from home (like a new toy, or their stamp collection) to share during show and tell, I’d make up glorious adventures about dragons, and ogres, and trolls, and unicorns. I really can’t remember a time when fantasy didn’t draw me in totally and completely.
When asked to read aloud in class, I did so with vigor and excitement. My voice filled with drama reflecting the mood of the story. It never occurred to me there was another way to read. I told my own stories with fervor, why would I not give the same commitment to the words of another?
I remember the first time I read out loud in grade eight. It was a significant point for me. I’d transferred to a new school that year, and for the first time I was in a class full of kids who didn’t know me from Adam. I began reading, filled with pride – I was always such a great orator. When the class erupted in laughter I was completely taken aback. I remember pausing, looking around to see what had everyone in stitches. When I didn’t see anything, I picked up where I’d left off.
The teacher cut me off when the class fell apart into peels of laughter for the second time. I’ll never forget her words: “Maybe we should let someone else have a turn.” It was at that moment that I realized that the laughter was directed at me. Me.
I sat down, completely in shock. Everyone had always been in such awe of my tremendous reading and narration skills. This was one of the few intellectual areas where I had truly excelled. I was an advanced reader, and had always impressed my peers. So the fact that this area of pride was – in this new arena – an embarrassment was… well… dumbfounding.
I learned quickly to dumb myself down when talking to people. No one wanted to be outshone… especially by a girl. There were only eight girls and forty boys in the two grade eight classes in the school. And the girls all seemed to take pride in their lack of intelligence. It really was a turning year for me. Strange, and peculiar in so many ways.
I love now having the chance to again be reading fantasy adventure… with excitement, emotion, and enthusiasm. The way these stories were meant to be read. Giving value to each line. Giving voice to every character.
The wee girlie loves reading “chapters” at night with me. Tonight we couldn’t help but read four (rather than our usual two). We’re at an exceptionally exciting part of the story… and it can be hard to put it down. Lily-Ann may only be three, but I never have to worry about dumbing down a story for her – like I used to do for those eight graders. We relish the experience together, and I know she’s in for a life-time passion for the written word. It’s something that thrills me totally and completely.
We’re currently on book three of the Keyholders series. And I heartily recommend every book we’ve read so far. There have been times that she has jumped, cried out empathetically, busted a gut laughing… She’ll shout out: “It’s a dragon!!!” “Bring bells!!! You need bells to scare them away!!!” “The queen is coming! RUN!!!!” And that says sooo much to me about the quality of this series. It’s one I’m sure she’ll come back to when she’s able to read it herself. For now though, I’m happy it’s something we can share together.
Posted on April 14, 2011, in Feminism, Joy Journey, Parenting, Wee Girlie and tagged chapter books, children's books, children's stories, Debbie Dadey, Formative Moments, Inside the Magic, juvenile fiction, Keyholders, kids chapter books, Marcia Thornton, reading aloud, reading out loud, reading out loud in class, The Other Side of Magic, The Wrong Side of Magic, This Side of Magic. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.