Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Reading Out Loud

I mentioned recently that I was reading The Graveyard Book to the kids (and Jenna) in the States. This inspired the aged photo here, having realised how much the young Bod is like Clark. Sadly I was too slow with recording the remaining chapters so Jenna and Karleigh gave in and continued reading themselves — disappointing, but not exactly unexpected.

As I mentioned to Jenna at the time, I really miss the opportunity to read out loud. I would occasionally read aloud to Kirsten while we were together, and even at school I liked the experience of bringing apparently dull words to life. There is something — not quite primal, but at the very least tribal — about the act of storytelling. It is an interactive form of entertainment in which both the storyteller and audience are complicit in conjuring a world from nothing; neither can operate alone since one can only inspire the imagination of another, not control it. It is, naturally, more rewarding if you can see the reaction from your audience as you progress (and that may in turn inform your own narration) but the Atlantic still has much for which it must answer.

So a new question: what else would people recommend as good children’s books I could read? Ideally these would be either British or older books which they otherwise might not come across, as Jenna will undoubtedly have a readily available stream of recent home-grown fiction to read Karleigh. And nothing that falls into the horrific apparently-this-is-now-a-genre-with-an-entire-shelf of “Teen Supernatural Romance”. I already have the first in mind (which I had been intending to buy for Karleigh in a year and a half or so, for her to read herself): the first of Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci novels, Charmed Life, which struck a chord with me as a boy when I first listened to it as an audiobook (or rather overheard it while my mother was listening).

3 Comments

  1. One of the first books I remember my Mum reading to me was Carpet People by Terry Pratchett. All of them work well when read out loud.

  2. Thanks Fiona. My dad and I definitely read some Pratchett while I was young but I can’t remember which ones now. Will look into it.

    Suspect Karleigh’s still a little young for Good Omens, sadly!

  3. Oh, but Good Omens is the best!

    You could also read – well, come to think of it, this may be a bit too mature for Karleigh (and a bit long), but I’ll suggest it anyway – I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Very good read.

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"Lack of imagination is an occupational hazard for an apex predator."

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