7.5 Years of Reading Aloud

Everyone is home for weeks now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And, still we read. It’s been quite a while since I updated our reading streak log. The last time was when we were at 2222 Days of Reading Aloud. Here we are, 7.5 years into our reading streak. We started when Zoe was in kindergarten and Mia was 3 years old. Now, they are 13 and 10.

Reading aloud to older kids is pretty different and much the same as reading to little ones. It’s different because they can read well on their own, and often prefer to do that, especially for stories that they want to enjoy more quickly than our late evening schedule often allows. In usual weeks, we get home from sports or other activities, juggle dinner and homework, and fit in a quick page or two of reading aloud. Some books take months at this pace. Reading aloud to older kids is the same in that we all still look forward to this connecting time, to the shared unfolding of story, narrative, facts, and characters.

So, what have we been reading? Since the last time I updated the log, we read several more books in the “Swallows and Amazons” series of sailing adventures by Arthur Ransome, that is up until “Missee Lee” a pirate story that takes place off the coast of China. We tried to get through it a couple of times, and it was too scary and too racist, written in a different time. Fortunately, Mia and i were reading the Penderwicks series, so Zoe joined us as we made our way through books 2-5.

Now, we’re onto nonfiction. Zoe listened for six months as I read “The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer” by Caitlin Murray. Zoe had done a school project two years ago about inequities in women’s ice hockey, and so the topic felt relevant to her, and she remained interested throughout, even though we sometimes only managed a paragraph on particularly late nights.

We just started reading “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” by Margo Lee Shetterly. The girls and I saw the film when it first came out in the theaters, and I’ve listened to the audiobook. Reading it is bringing alive history, with Zoe interrupting frequently still to ask questions and place events in the emerging historical timeline in her head. It feels like we may get through it faster than “The National Team,” but then again, we have more time to read late into the night now, and sleep in if needed.

After finishing the Penderwicks series, Mia and I have enjoyed a poetry anthology, and now are working through Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” Note that I don’t log the books I read aloud to Mia, though I do write about them when I write these occasional updates. Mia likes to read and be read to, and she likes to do other things too. When she was younger, she’d often ask for a game instead of reading, because it was too many words to listen to the books that Zoe liked. Last night, we worked late into the night on a jigsaw puzzle together. These days, Mia wants a poem or several before bed.

As most families and schools sort out what schooling looks like in this unusual moment in history with kids unexpectedly home instead of at school, I feel grateful to have this anchor in our lives, time to read aloud daily with each of my girls. And, I love hearing about the books they have chosen to read on their own. Zoe and I made it to the public library on the last day it was open so she is still working through her pile of books. Otherwise, we’re relying on what we have in the house, what we can borrow digitally via Libby and Hoopla, and occasionally ordering Kindle books when the wait would be too long for digital loans. Happy reading!

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