Reading Aloud to Z

I’m working with a colleague on a presentation based on her work about reading aloud as professional development. While I’m pulling ideas together, I keep recalling a question my mother asked me three years ago: “Are you still reading to Z?”

I said, “No, he wants to read on his own now. He likes to read things aloud to me, especially if it’s funny or interesting.”

I remember feeling a little guilty.

She didn’t come out and say it, but the implication was clear: Z may be older, but he still needs readalouds. Mama didn’t read any research or get any degrees in reading from a prestigious university like *OSU, but I knew she knew what she was talking about.

My mother is a woman who says she struggled through high school—probably because she was busy taking care of me—yet she managed to instill a love of reading in me that was so strong, it continues to influence me.

But Z rarely accepts my invitations to read aloud. I tried reading a little of The Hobbit to him a few weeks ago, but after a few sentences he said, “That’s OK, Mom, I’ve got it.”

A few times a week, he does let me read excerpts from the newspaper to him, if only to tell me, “Mom, I already knew that. I found out on Twitter [or Facebook or a dozen other online sources he subscribes to].”

I read aloud things about pop culture, things about politics, and lines about anything that are particularly well-written. For instance, I’ll read a line from a Clarence Page piece that I think is particularly witty and we’ll laugh and talk about word choice.

In class, we talked about reading aloud in grades K-12 to model fluency, build vocabulary, illustrate language patterns….Something tells me Mama was not concerned about whether reading aloud to Z would improve his reading ability.

I think she was more concerned about the social aspects of reading, about how people can bond around the printed word.

*Yes, I had to mention my alma mater:)