Genre of the Week: The Read-Aloud

I guess the read-aloud’s not technically a genre, since so many types of books benefit from being heard rather than just read. But read-alouds are on my mind today. Partly because I’m about to write up a gallery of new good read-alouds for kids. And partly because reading aloud came up last night, from unexpected quarters. 

My 6th grade daughter has avowed that she is done with being read to. Sadly, I don’t know if or when this status will ever change. I miss the intimacy of reading to her, snuggled up in bed or on the couch. And I miss hearing words strung together page after page, even if I have to hear them uttered in my own voice. But last night, discussing A Wrinkle in Time, my husband remembered how much he’d loved this book when he was a boy. And then he asked if I would read it to him. As some of you know, Rob has just lost his father, and is about to lose his mother. And it seemed oh-so-appropriate to me that he should ask for this. Because I can think of no greater warming comfort, a comfort that speaks to the best moments of childhood, when all is still right with the world, than being read to.


I went instantly to grab it off the shelf and tonight I hope to begin.

This book is one of my favorites, too. I read it at least three times as a girl, and read it aloud several years ago to my daughter—way back in those halcyon days when every evening was an evening she wanted to be read to. I am so eager to begin it again that I can’t wait. So, here for you is the opening. Read it aloud to yourself, and hopefully you will be inspired to pick the book up and read it through another time, or perhaps for the first time.

It was a dark and stormy night.

     In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees clouds scuttled frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraithlike shadows that raced along the ground.

   The house shook.

2 thoughts on “Genre of the Week: The Read-Aloud

  1. I love the concept of grownups reading YA fiction (see? there is a need for the “genre” label because there’s so much beyond YA fiction that makes for excellent out-loud reading.) In my perfect imaginary world, small groups gather for just this experience. Maybe someday I’ll try to actually make it happen in my own intimate circle.

    I shall hold out hope for your daughter. Letting go of this experience is a stepping stone for her. Someday she might choose to return. Just last week, I mentioned to my sixteen year old son that if he’d like, we could read together to help him get through the likes of “Gatsby” and “The Giver”, a read and a re-read as part of his tenth grade English syllabus. He did not summarily reject the idea.

    Finally: Your husband’s father: I am so sorry. His mother: I am so sorry. I recently experienced a close loss in my own life. I believe that loss and grief, especially of one closely loved, can be an opportunity to challenge the status quo and in turn, can result in letting in more love, more richness, depth to already meaningful memories and relationships. This exercise is sure to be a blessing to you both.

    Much love,


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