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Anne B-A

I have a clear memory of my Father reading aloud to me by the fire long after I could do it for myself. Happy days!


Lovely memory view, of something gone... Gone in so many places, at least.


How lucky you are, Anne B-A, to have such memories...


Yes indeed!


I must say that my husband does occasionally read to me to help me fall asleep (it works!), but that's not, I think, what Lady Tweedsmuir had in mind. Even so ...

Mr Cornflower

There is an anecdote in Plato's dialogue "Phaedrus" about how the Egyptian god Theuth offered the gift of writing to King Thamus, saying that it would make his people wise. On the contrary, retorted the King, true wisdom is transmitted by the spoken word, when stories are passed on with loving care from one generation to the next until they form a living thread through the ages. There is a life, an intimacy about reading aloud which harks back to the time before writing.


That is true, and not all who attempt it can read aloud well (I have heard many writers - at literary festivals and on promotional videos - who cannot read their own work!).


While not a family activity, when commuting (long driving distance) to work, the only thing that saved the tedium was listening to audio-books. And to speak to your point about being able to read aloud well, the narrator in this medium either makes or breaks the book. After listening to hundreds of books over the years, I began to look for the name of the narrator as often as I sought out particular authors. One terrific narrator who comes to mind, now gone, was Patrick Tull, especially for his reading of the Aubrey-Maturin series of nautical historical novels by Patrick O'Brian. His voice characterization were amazing and vivid.


Oh yes, that's so important for an audiobook.


I read aloud to my children long after they could read, almost until they turned into teenagers. Once my son asked if this was normal, okay, and luckily the right response came to mind: not parental love psychobabble, but rather the more relevant, "Think of the ancients who had limited light. There was one reader and many listeners." We kept on until basically my presence became anathema (all is fine now, of course!).


What a good answer, Naomi.


I also read aloud to my daughter before bed every day, and often she will take over for a few pages too. It's a lovely ritual and also gets her to practice and ask vocabulary questions when needed.

Over the past year we have been making our way through the Harry Potter series, which I'd never read before, as well as reading other books and comics.


Bedtime stories are the perfect end to the day, and I still know off by heart many of the books I read to our children.
Much more recently, i.e. when the children were long past the age of being read to, we stayed at a holiday house which had no television or wifi and we amused ourselves by taking turns to read aloud (with hilarious results!).


My mother read aloud to me for many years, and I have mixed memories. She chose the book and whilst I am sure her intentions were good ones; to introduce me to classics of English Literature, it wasn’t always a success. My memories of the nightly sessions, especially Great Expectations, Oliver Twist and more before I was 11 sadly put me off Dickens; I have yet to read one of his novels yet, fifty years later.
Whilst she read I would be set to making Christmas presents or knitting dishcloths depending on the time of year, as she was a great believer in always being busy. Yet it was her love of reading and books which set me up as a lifelong reader, I still knit and make not all negative memories!


Pity about Dickens, but maybe he's not for you, even without that early experience; as you say, I'm sure your mother's intentions were good, Fran, and you've gained by them.


My children were home-schooled and before my first husband's death he always read aloud to them after lunch. My daughter, now in her 50s, especially remembers all of Hugh Lofting's Doctor Dolittle books and Andrew Lang's Colored Fairy Tale books.

My second husband reads poetry aloud to me now and then and has persuaded me that many modern poets I think I despise, are well worth a visit.


Precious memories and happy discoveries! Thank you, Erika.

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