I have extolled the virtues of reading aloud with our children several times in the last couple months. I have even mentioned that the Littles and I are reading Oliver Twist together this year. But today I found yet another reason having a read-aloud class is beneficial.
I fell in love with Charles Dickens when I first read Great Expectations at about the same age as Middle. I remember discovering the decades-old hardcover in the middle school library, but I don’t remember what in me made me decide to pick it up and check it out. I think, at the time, I was fascinated by the old cloth and thread binding of such books. I didn’t know what Great Expectations was about and if I had heard of Dickens before it was through seeing different versions of A Christmas Carol on film. Even so, from the moment I opened the first page, I was hooked. Ensconced. Enraptured. I have read a Dickens novel every year since, at Christmastime, which seems like a fitting time to dive into the world of mid-1800s England and lose myself among such brilliantly written pages. I know more about the British government and the plight of the poor and Victorian England than I really need to. And I never tire of it. And reading Dickens is always like slipping into a warm blanket with an even warmer cup of coffee.
So I wanted my Littles to know that feeling. Last year, when they were in 3rd & 5th grade, we read A Christmas Carol and made the dictionary pictured above (it is actually quite long, because if there’s one basic thing any reader can take away from Dickens, it is one kick-butt vocabulary). They understood it! and enjoyed it so much that I decided to read my Christmas Dickens with them from now on. Oliver Twist has 50-plus chapters, and since we read a chapter a day, we had to start early to make sure we were reading it for Christmas. We’ve now been reading for 4 weeks—finished chapter 20 today—and the Dickens Dictionary has grown exponentially in that time. But today—oh, I do love when something new comes from reading literature—Middle was reading aloud (they alternate pages) and he read this line:
The latter recognition was uttered with just enough embarrassment to imply a doubt of its reception..;
Except he read imply like it rhymed with simply. A reasonable mistake. I was thrown back to the years (about 10 of them, to my reckoning) after I first read the word vehement. Probably in a Dickens novel when I was close to Middle’s age. I pronounced it vee-hem-ent rather than ve-a-ment. For 10 years. At least. And when someone corrected me, he did it in front of a crowd of people. He thought I had called him a behemoth. It was super embarrassing. So immediately upon hearing Middle’s mispronunciation, I gave him a gentle smile and kindly told him how to pronounce imply. And tucked it into the teacher file in my head to watch for such easily mispronounced words and make sure both Littles know how to say them right. To save them any embarrassment in their twenties.
See, having a well-read mind automatically brings a great vocabulary into one’s life. Being well-spoken is something we have to learn.
What about you? Have you come across a new learning tool when reading aloud with your little ones? If so, I’d love to hear about it.
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