Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Read-Aloud Pick of the Week

Any day now, Peter Jackson's movie treatment of THE HOBBIT will be upon us. I'm sure I'll like it just fine. But what I love, and loved beyond measure as a child, was Tolkien's riveting novel, which I'm shocked to realize I read to myself only once. I read it out loud to Ada this summer, just before she turned nine. It was one of those rare instances of hitting precisely the right book at the right time, and I'm crossing my fingers that she lets me read it to her again one day extremely soon.

My favorite HOBBIT cover

It's not that Ada, or any book-loving kid of her age, couldn't read this book for herself. But reading it aloud was a total pleasure for both of us, for the simple, crucial reason that Tolkien was a master of language and pacing and suspense—you feel the full force of these gifts when you utter his words out loud (or hear them read to you). There are few writers to match him in this regard, no matter what detractors like Phillip Pullman eventually made of his "simplistic" moralism (which, in fairness, I believe applies more to the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy).

The cover of THE HOBBIT I read as a kid

Once I got started reading, I almost never wanted to stop, even when I began to go hoarse. So it was that I managed to read the entire book to Ada in about four days. I sped through the thing, then was sorry I hadn't made it last forever. And once the book was finished, I couldn't think of another book I wanted to read out loud half so much. In fact, I'm still trying to come up with reasonable read-aloud sequel. I've hit on something pretty close, though—more about that next week.

1 comment:

ruth said...

you're more than welcome to come and read it to me, I'm trolling the internet looking for my bedtime story!