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Essay

Read me a story

By Deborah Davidson

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Do you have memories of being read aloud to when you were little? My earliest memory of hearing a story being read aloud was listening to my teacher tell picture board stories (kami-shibai) in Japanese kindergarten.

My second memory is from fifth grade at international school in Sapporo. Our teacher read to us from novels after recess every day. The books she read to us were more difficult than the ones I read on my own. Most of them were already classics at the time. I became totally absorbed in each book my teacher read. For me there was no greater reward for coming to school.

To this day, when asked what is my favorite novel in all the world, I reply: "Kim, by Rudyard Kipling." Sometimes I add, "My second favorite is The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien." I remember the books that were read to me more clearly than the ones I read on my own, both then and now. And I have returned to them again and again at different stages of my life.

I have two good friends who are trained book readers. One reads picture books to local elementary school students. She carefully selects books with attractive art and well-chosen words that can be read within the allotted time.

She says that parents often thank her, saying "My child's grades are improving!" But my friend doesn't believe that academic achievement is the goal of reading aloud. She believes that a good choice of storybooks read aloud to young children will light a fire in them. A fire that will help form them into adults who will live life with passion and vision.

My other friend is trained to read aloud to adults. Not necessarily people who have bad eyesight or are too sick to read printed books for themselves. Sometimes even ordinary people prefer to have books read aloud to them. Apparently it adds a new quality to the experience that they can't get by reading the books for themselves.

When my children were young, I tried to read to them every night at bedtime. This tradition started when they were babies and continued until they were in junior high school.

Of course by that time they could read for themselves. But our read-aloud time was very special to us. They still fondly remember Charlotte's Web, The Phantom Tollbooth, Little House on the Prairie and Robinson Crusoe. I can't prove that my reading aloud to them influenced the kind of adults they have become. But I am happy to say that they did grow up to be adults who live life with passion and vision.

本を読んで

一番好きな小説は何かと聞かれたら、今でも、子どもの頃に読んだ児童書の名前を挙げる筆者。自分で読んだ本よりも、誰かに読み聞かせてもらった本の方がよく覚えているという。

The Japan Times ST: September 29, 2017

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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2017年12月15日号    試読・購読   デジタル版
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