Recently, I found the book, 'Tell Me a Story, an Anthology' by Charles Laughton, at a library sale. It was copyrighted in 1957.
Charles Laughton, a Brit, started off as an actor in Los Angeles. During the WWII years he felt guilty because he wasn't doing anything in the war effort. He was driving his wife crazy with his bad attitude.
One day he met some wounded soldiers who were taking a tour of M-G-M and asked them what they did in the evenings for entertainment. They answered, "Nothing." He started going over to the hospital a couple of evenings a week to read to the men. He would read Dickens, Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Andersen's Fairy Tales and the Bible to them. He found that 'reading aloud to a group of people, however scarred, turns them into children. The men would sit and listen to fairy stories. They found a reflection of their sufferings, which they had thought to be unique, in the tragedies of Shakespeare, and felt better.' His readings required a larger and larger room at the hospital. He decided that people wanted to be read to. He made that his profession and ended up touring all over the world reading great stories.
His secret for learning to read aloud is, 'to read something you love, to someone you love and practice and practice and practice till you don't have to pin them down anymore to listen.'
I liked his closing goal. He wanted to be the man who knew all the stories, who had a bottomless bag of stories on his back. He said that when he walked into a bookstore or library he would feel sad to see all the stories he would never be able to enjoy. He said, "I think of all the wonderful tales that I will never know and I wish I could live to be a thousand years old."
As parents, we have the greatest opportunity to practice being a story teller, to the most receptive audience in the world, our children. It is something we should do regularly, as long as they live in our house. Even when they are teenagers and young adults, keep reading to them. Having a common body of stories is a great way to bond your children and yourselves together. Yes, they can read to themselves, but nobody is ever to old to be read to. Think of it like giving them an oral hug. It takes time, and it shows you care. On the other hand, your children are never to young to be read to. It helps build their vocabulary and lets them know you care, even if they don't understand every word! It will help you build your common family culture. Turn off the TV or DVD player and spend time together today!
Tell me what the last book you read to your children was. I read 'Lazy Tinka' by Kate Seredy to the children yesterday.