Ever since I was quite little, my dad has always read to us kids, of course, beginning with the standard picture books, but then moving on to novels. He doesn’t read every night; sometimes we go for weeks without reading, but as soon as he finishes one book, he starts another.
My first clear memories of him reading novels to us were The Chronicles of Narnia (all seven books) by C. S. Lewis, which he read to me and my sister, as we were the only ones old enough at the time to pay attention to the story. 🙂 I think we worked through those reasonably quickly: it would have taken around two years, which is impressive considering how busy my family is. I remember, we would read on mum and dad’s bed, and Gabby and I would brush each other’s hair and stick hair clips in dad’s. (When dad’s hair started to grow out (he tries to avoid getting his hair cut), we started to brush and braid his hair instead.)
We took a break in between The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair to read A Peep Behind the Scenes by O. F. Walten, a sweet story looking “behind the scenes” of circus life. The story shows that although many people envy the main character’s (Rosalie’s) life, thinking it must be glamorous and exciting, it was hard, and sad, as she was unfairly treated by the circus. A very interesting and beautiful book.
After we had finished reading Narnia, dad began on The Hobbit, and then The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein. We began reading The Hobbit in 2013, and finished the final book of The Lord of the Rings right at the start of 2018, taking approximately 5 years to read all four books. That was an adventure. 😀 It was almost a bit disappointing finishing the series, as it was a lot of fun with dad reading them to us. I think if I had just read them by myself initially I would have skipped over some of those beautiful, but not really action-packed, descriptions of the scenery, so I’m glad dad read it to us and I didn’t miss out on that aspect of Tolkien’s incredible writing.
Around the time of finishing The Hobbit, we went to New Zealand, where the movies were filmed. This was amazing, as we definitely agreed that the scenery was just like what was described in the book. Visiting where Hobbiton is set up was also a great experience :). We haven’t watched the movies yet, but dad and I were thinking about cracking through them all on some long distance flights we have coming up. 🙂
Since then, we’ve read Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (dad’s childhood favourite), Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl (another of dad’s childhood favourites), The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt (amazing book) and The Princess Bride by William Goldman (which we got through in around two weeks, because of its comedy, action, and ability to get our family + our 6 cousins hooked while on holiday). Currently, we’re reading through the sequel to The Letter for the King, which is called: The Secrets of the Wild Wood.
I’m really glad dad started this tradition. Those nights we all pile on the couch (or bed, or at a table in a cafe with the people next to us hanging off every word, as it happened with The Princess Bride) to listen to dad read a chapter, or two if we can persuade him, are extremely special for me. Sometimes it feels weird explaining to people that my dad still reads books to us, even as we’re getting older, but I hope he keeps reading to us until we’re all old and grey.
This is one of the ways dad shows us kids how he loves us; there’s a lot of effort that goes in to working your way through an entire chapter of The Lord of the Rings, and keeping up with putting on the different voices for The Letter for the King.
Not only are the stories we read great, but it’s one of those precious times we get to spend as a family in amongst the busyness of life.
I don’t know how many other families there are that would do this, even as their children get older, but I think it’s a great way of bonding, and sharing a good book together. It certainly doesn’t slow down each of our personal reading pace! There’s something special about having a book that is the whole family’s; no one is allowed to read ahead and ruin experiencing the story with the whole family. I think also that reading at a slower pace, listening to someone read out loud, helps with fully appreciating the book and listening to minor details that otherwise may have been skimmed over.
Thank you dad. It means a lot to us.