Thursday, February 14, 2013

World Read Aloud Day Challenge: Part One

World Read Aloud Day Blogging Challenge!

What do you think is special about reading aloud?

You know how, in fantasy novels that involve portals to other places/times/dimensions, there are always rules about bringing other people through the portal with you? Generally you have to be touching the other person in order to bring her through with you, though not always.

Well, the real world has rules like that too. In order to bring a person with you through the portal to Narnia - or to Prydain, or to Harriet M. Welsch's New York City -  you have to read the magic words aloud. I know this works, because just last night Ella and I were hanging out in The Birchbark House with Omakayas. I have whisked Sam away to The Rookery to spy on David Copperfield. One year my entire fourth grade class followed two dogs and a cat on an Incredible Journey across Canada.

In seriousness, reading aloud together is one of the only times I can think of where more than one person can participate in the co-creation of an imaginary world. You could argue that watching a movie together accomplishes something similar, but I think that's just two people alone in the dark. Reading - even solitary reading - is more active, since the reader is charged with transforming code into pictures, sounds, and feelings. And when you add a human voice and a listener (or several listeners) to the equation, something amazing happens. All of you get to see (and create!) the pictures, hear the sounds, and feel the emotions. You get to visit another place, or try out another life, and you get to do it together.

There's a reason we humans have been telling each other stories for millennia, and it's not just to improve our comprehension skills. It's the way we make sense of the world. It's the way we create meaning. 

I think that's fairly special.

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