One of my most favorite things in life has been reading aloud to my three kids at bedtime. I hardly even remember making a conscious decision to do it. I might have always assumed I would, being an avid reader longer than I can remember. I would check out books from my school library most days in elementary school, devour them that evening, and return them the following day. Reading is as much a part of my life as eating.
So I have no idea what books were first for our nightly read alouds. I do remember Rhiannon was only 3 when she requested her dad read Lord of The Rings to her. He does better voices, my kids say, and when Rhiannon was 3 Caroline was a baby and I was still learning to be a mom of two kids, so I appreciated him taking over some of the bedtime routine. But I’ve done most of the reading aloud because I love it so much. When Rhiannon was just turning 6, a few months before Deathly Hallows was released, she asked me to read Harry Potter to her because her friends kept talking about it and playing it. I consider myself lucky for that timing. Even though I’d collected the first four books while I was teaching in the the late 1990’s, I hadn’t read any yet, so in 2007 I read the entire series back to back, with just a short wait for Deathly Hallows to come out in July.
I will always think of Harry Potter when I think of our bedtime read aloud routine, because I read through all seven books several times. Each kid asked me to read it at least twice. We were huge fans (and Rhiannon refers to it as a classic, a standard to which to compare other books). But we read a lot of other books too. Just off the top of my head, and with a little help from Goodreads (which is not complete because I only really started using it this year), here are some books we enjoyed together at bedtimes: The Magic Treehouse series (loved the history, but the simplified text makes it annoying as a read-aloud!); The Last of The Really Great Whangdoodles; the Little House books; the Anne of Green Gables series; Half Magic by Edward Eager; The Biggest Bed in the World by Lindsay Camp; Corduroy; Strega Nona; A Bad Case of the Stripes; the Ramona Quimby books; Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s hilarious books including The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales; I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child; Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel; the Penderwicks books; many many Magic School Bus books; A Wrinkle in Time; The City of Ember series; Rick Riordan’s books, beginning with Percy Jackson. The Percy Jackson books are among the last I read aloud to all of three of them. I didn’t actually get to finish because the kids loved the books so much (and sometimes I fell asleep while trying to read) so they took the books and read for themselves. Note: I only listed picture books they loved enough to read over and over and over again.
I think Rhiannon has been my child who most enjoyed read aloud because she stuck around for them and requested them the longest. The change was gradual, so I’m having trouble remembering when our bedtime read alouds ended. I think it took most of 2014 and 2015 to transition. First Rhiannon gradually stopped, and then Caroline soon after. Ian keep asking me to read to him for quite a lot longer, but I think the last time was last winter. So several times this year I have found myself missing reading aloud.
I know we could still read aloud together any time and occasionally we do. But it doesn’t seem meant to be a regular routine anymore. Well, I’m glad it lasted a long time and I treasured it while we had it. Now the way we enjoy books together is to share what we read sometimes, and occasionally read the same books and discuss them. And I’m thinking I may find new opportunities for reading aloud in the future.
This was inspired by today’s prompt – missing – from The Daily Post at WordPress.
More photos from those bedtime read aloud years: