I love to read aloud, especially to our daughter. We — mostly I — have been reading to her since she was a baby, and I’m still at it now that she’s 16. It’s been a wonderful way to share wonderful books with her: some that we’ve discovered together, and some of my old or new favorites that I have eagerly shared with her. Over the years, I’ve read her everything from Dr. Seuss to Laurie R. King’s “Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes” mysteries… complete with voices and even accents. (I do several fairly decent British accents; I’m not so great at Italian, German, and some of the regional American accents –the Maine “Down East” accent escapes me completely.)
For years, read-aloud time was right before bedtime. Our daughter would get ready for bed, then sit on or snuggle into her bed while I read to her. My husband would sit on the end of the bed or lie on the floor to stretch out his back after a tough day of work. (When he was particularly tired, reading time was occasionally punctuated by soft snores.) But as time went on, bedtime grew later and books grew more exciting — and less conducive to sleep. When we started homeschooling four years ago, read-aloud time slowly migrated to late afternoon, often accompanied by either afternoon tea or an early dinner before ballet. Some days, the schedule was just too busy to squeeze it in, but we always came back to it when things lightened up. And this year, she has begun to return the favor, reading me two of her favorite chapter books from her childhood, which I had never read.
This week, I lost my voice. Not just an “I’m a bit hoarse” or “I sound like a frog” sort of thing. No, this is total laryngitis, the kind where you can’t make any sound. I can’t talk on the phone, I can’t give history or Spanish lessons, and I definitely can’t read aloud. Which really stinks. We are in the middle of a book I’ve been waiting for years to share with our daughter, and I CAN’T READ. Not aloud, at any rate.
Now, our daughter is certainly capable of reading the book to herself. But we have a tacit agreement regarding read-aloud books: the person being read to doesn’t peek, and the reader doesn’t read ahead. To do so is considered unfair, and besides, it spoils the fun. So we are stuck, and the heroine of the book is stuck — and while it might not be at the absolutely most exciting moment in the book, it is, nonetheless, at a suspenseful point.
And it could be a week or more before I regain my voice.