The 2016 Read Harder Challenge begins as soon as you sign up at the Circulation Desk, and, in an effort to encourage people to join in and have fun with us, I’ll be posting when I cross off an item on the list (for those of you who have forgotten, or who didn’t see the earlier post, it’s here.
The first item I’ve checked off is “Read a book out loud to someone else,” and the book I read was A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, which I read to my (26 year old) daughter. This is a terrific read-aloud; Dickens was writing in an era when people often read books out loud (no television, no internet), and he knew what he was doing. Even if you’re familiar with the story (and who isn’t, after all the movies, live action and animated, over the years, not to mention the takeoffs on the basic plot), the book contains a lot more than any of the movies, and the language is so rich and full of life it’s a pleasure to experience it. As a read-aloud, A Christmas Carol gives you a real workout: not only are there all sorts of different characters (to whom you can give different voices, and you probably will), but the emotional range of the book is huge, from bitterness and meanness through joy, sorrow, fear and just about any other emotion you can imagine. I have to confess, it’s been a tradition in our family to read this book aloud for years, so choosing this as a check-off almost felt like cheating (it’s not cheating, but it almost felt that way), since this was something I was going to do in any event.
You don’t have to take on a book as long and as emotional as A Christmas Carol for your read-aloud, and it might be a good idea to start with something shorter and lighter. The New York Public Library has an excellent list of possible reads in the different categories, and you’ll notice the selections in the read aloud area are children’s books and poetry, but don’t feel limited by their selections, either. Humor is always great to read aloud (try Dave Barry or Woody Allen), and people usually enjoy hearing humor, too (a consideration when you’re reading aloud to someone else, though if that someone is a dog or cat or even a child, you can probably get away with reading just about anything).
One down, twenty-three to go! Join the fun!
Added on January 4, 2016: More information about the charms and delights of reading aloud can be found here.