Looking ahead to Chapter 10 of The Hidden Art of Homemaking, I expected to have absolutely nothing to blog about. Drama? In homemaking? I was racking my brain to think if there was any small way that I had employed drama in my thirty-five years of keeping a home. The kids act out the Christmas story every year. I wonder if that counts. We have had Shakespeare reading days at our house a few times. But surely Mrs. Schaeffer did not mean that. How many people have done such a thing?
Then I read the chapter.
And I'm all over it!
Because Mrs. Schaeffer says:
"Reading aloud is the best outlet that I know of for hidden dramatic ability. It is the best development for speaking ability, and the least complicated exercise for the use of one's voice and expression."
And the rest of the chapter is about just that...reading aloud!
The author proposes that reading aloud fills two purposes. It is an outlet for any dramatic ability (latent or otherwise) that one has. But, even more importantly, reading aloud, sharing words together, builds family unity.
"The plea for women to have 'time to be themselves' or 'time for fulfilling careers' is overworked....If people were less anxious to join a drama club or some other kind of 'fulfill yourself' activity and used their talents right in their homes, they would not only be more fulfilled when the children were two years old and they were capturing their attention with vivid and original ideas, but when the same children were eighteen years old they would not be wringing their hands so tragically at the complete lack of communication with them."
Mrs. Schaeffer speaks of "sculpting a life" and that such "art" is a slow process and takes place over a number of years.
My mother read to me. I have wonderful memories of the magical revolving book rack at the grocery store, filled with Little Golden books., many of which found their way into our home. I also remember Mom taking me to the basement of our local library, which is where the children's books were located, and together we'd uncover treasures. Through reading, Mom introduced me to Curious George and Impatient Jonathan and Amelia Bedelia and Ramona. I heard nursery rhymes and "Animal Crackers and Cocoa to Drink" and "The Swing." She also read the Book of books, the Bible.
I have always read to my children. I love, love to read aloud.
I read to my babies, books like The Good Night Book, Where's Spot?, and Pat the Bunny.
I read to my toddlers and preschoolers. Make Way for Ducklings. Are You My Mother? The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Picture books galore. Charlotte's Web. Little House in the Big Woods.
One of 3-year-old Kristin's favorites was The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor. This one lent itself to lots of expression and a bit of drama as Papa Bear boasts that he "never gets sick," all the while sneezing increasingly louder throughout the story. One day, Kristin picked up and "read" this book to her baby brother Ryan. I listened in, waiting for her to reach an end of the parts she knew. I was amazed to discover that she could "read" the entire book verbatim, using great expression and all the correct inflections!
I read to my school-aged children. All-of-a-Kind Family. The Wind in the Willows. Socks. The Birds' Christmas Carol. Heidi. Peter Pan. Chapter books galore.
I read for (home) school. Yes, even when the children were old enough to read independently, I still kept a read aloud (or two) going. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. Paddle-to-the-Sea. Abraham Lincoln's World. Mary Jemison: Indian Captive. The Last of the Mohicans. The Yearling. A Tale of Two Cities. Biographies galore. Literature, even more.
I read aloud as family entertainment/enjoyment/learning. (Where does one end and another begin?) When choosing family read alouds, we usually read something that Ron has chosen. His selections bring some male influence into our reading, and he sometimes chooses books that we may not have read otherwise. The Swiss Family Robinson. Drake: The Man They Called a Pirate. Daniel Boone: The Opening of the Wilderness.
We have continued family read alouds as long as the "children" are physically present. And I hope that Ron and I will continue to enjoy reading together even after the last child has left the nest!
Like Mrs. Schaeffer, I believe that sharing a book by reading it aloud is a wonderful way to create family memories, learn together, and collect a treasure trove of shared knowledge and stories.