Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Read Aloud Progress

Recently, the kids and I began reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I set a private benchmark of a chapter a day. I thought such a pace would first, keep the story line fresh in our minds and second, allow us to finish the book in a timely manner. Like, before Canada Day.

We are really enjoying our reading time on the couch as the weather gets cooler. I can easily see us going through a number of books and less so-called book-work this winter. Of course part of that is selfish motivation on my part. I love that the kids still like to sit with me to read. How many more years can that last? But I digress...

As we get further and further into the book my benchmark has flown out the window. We're whipping through chapter after chapter. Have you ever noticed that J.K. Rowling (and any other author, I'm sure) pulls you in by not really finishing the chapter to some satisfying conclusion? The end of the chapter pinnacles at some crucial point in the story. I pause in my reading. There's no discussion 28 chapters into the book; K simply tells me, "more, Mom." R chimes in with a simple, "yup". I continue. Today I continued until R was turned around upside-down on the couch with his head hanging to the floor with his feet on the wall above and K was laid out on the coffee table 'fishing' for the dog with a rope.

I didn't think I'd enjoy this read aloud as much as I am. When the book first came out, I was the one in line at midnight buying two copies. I read all weekend until I was finished. Now, a few months later, I'm enjoying the second, slower read with the kids as much as I enjoyed the first. In fact, I'm much more involved in the story this time, having to pause at the very sudden death of a most beloved character at the end of chapter 23.

I'm enjoying how the kids are following a more complex story line. I'm even getting the thrills I used to get in grade 9 Enriched English when cryptic, erudite Mr. O'Donnell used to lead the class through deep discussions of our assigned reading. I loved uncovering not-so obvious connections between characters and plot lines, finding obscure references to ancient history, politics and religion. It is so cool to see the kids find little connections in our read alouds, to hear them explain plot lines and character development to each other, to pull out little mentioned facts from previous books in the series to gain insight in the current installment.

After the Deathly Hallows we're going to read a bit of historical fiction set somewhere on the timeline of our current Ancient History work. I'm thinking Ancient Greece or somewhere thereabouts (suggestions appreciated!). I'm looking forward to the lightbulb moments, the cold mornings warming up and waking up on the couch and the little thrills I get when the kids put the literary bits together.

It's going to be a good winter...even if our reading turns the kids upside down.


justjen said...

Wonderful. We did the morning reading thing every day for years, until the boys were well into high school level. We did Treasure Island, in the original English, all the Lord of the Rings, Roald Dahl's autobiography(hilarious!), Corrie Ten Boom's Hiding Place as well as the books the come before and after that period in her life, and so many more. I never much liked getting on the floor and crawling around "playing" the way some enjoy, but I always loved reading out loud to anyone who would listen. When I was a teen my mom and I took turns reading the Hound of the Baskervilles to each other. It was great!

jugglingpaynes said...

So fun to read aloud. Especially books like Harry Potter. We started the tradition because no one can wait in our house for their turn at the book!
You could try Detectives in Togas for an ancient Roman historical fiction.
Maybe you could find a child friendly version of the Iliad or the Odyssey?
Mary Pope Osborne has an Odyssey series (one or two adventures per book in a set of 4).
Peace and Laughter,