I daresay most, if not all the people who read this blog are aware that reading to children is a wonderful thing to do. Many of the readers here also know that a child is never too old to be read to.
Some of my greatest childhood memories involve my mom, my brother, and me giggling ourselves silly before bed with Bruce Coville novels; In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories; and poems by Jack Prelutsky. My brother’s preferences clearly won out in these scenarios, but it wasn’t just what we were reading; it was that we were reading together.
Today I propose a new philosophy: that reading aloud can be good for your marriage, too.
During Lent, there came a night when John and I finished dinner earlier than normal and had nothing else planned for the evening. We don’t watch much television, save our standard Friday evening movie. Still, we might have turned something on, had I not given up my two favorite shows for Lent.
We considered our options. We could play cards. We could go to sleep early. Like really early. We could get back to reading Anna Karenina, which after six months, we were only about eighty pages into. There were such gaps between our readings that we couldn’t keep track of the characters anymore.
Instead, we decided to start reading The Hunger Games. I’d read the trilogy before, but wanted to reread the first book before I saw the movie. We dug in and didn’t look back. Every night we could, we’d alternate chapters (read: I knit while he reads!), passing the book back and forth, and inevitably intoning a “dun, dun, dun!” at the end of each section.
It’s not like we don’t talk, but this was a new opportunity for a different variety of conversation. We talked about the characters’ motivations and reactions, what we thought would happen next, how old a child should be to read these books, and some bigger questions about love and family and self-awareness.
These are the kinds of conversations I’m looking forward to having with our child(ren) in the future over stories like The Hobbit, Narnia, Tuck Everlasting, and A Wrinkle in Time. Jacob is more interested in the physical book than the story inside it these days, so that will have to wait. In the meantime, it turns out I’ve had a great reading buddy by my side all along.
John and I have read a few books together before, but never fiction, and certainly never young adult fiction. I could say it’s all research for my freelancing business, but the truth is a good read means a good conversation. And a good conversation, in my world, means a good marriage.