Bedtime storyWhen I was little, my father would read aloud to me and my brother almost every night. He read picture books, and poetry, and novels. Long, complicated novels, like The Hobbit and the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, with distinct voices for each character. We’d sit in the old rocking armchair in the corner of the living room and listen as wizards and trolls and elves would roll out of his mouth and appear in the living room. It was decades before there was a movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings that got Golum’s voice even close to right, right being the way my father would make Golum’s voice whine and slither.

I have leather-bound copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, birthday gifts from my parents. I also have a tattered, treasured copy of When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne, dated 1925. This was the book for quieter nights, when Jonathan Jo appeared with his wheelbarrow full of surprises and the Lake King’s daughter slipped over the water lilies. My most favorite poem of all was, and still is, Halfway Down, about special places to daydream and the far-away musings of little imaginations. I know it by heart. You could stop me on the street right now and I could speak it to you.

I overheard my father reading to my kids recently and was reminded of how truly wonderful reading aloud can be, especially when you’re small and the world is wide open and the reader is someone who loves books – and you.

So now I read to my kids, picture books and poems and story books. And I wonder what they’ll remember, years from now? My version of Cars and Trucks and Things That Go? Mr K’s slapstick Henry P. Baloney? Will The Pokey Little Puppy always sound like Grandma?

What do you read aloud?