We exist together in a little patch of warmth and light

goodnight-moon

To curl up with children and a good book has long been one of the great civilizing practices of domestic life, an almost magical means of cultivating warm fellow feeling, shared in-jokes and a common cultural understanding. Harvard professor Maria Tatar has written of its origins in medieval fireside storytelling, “before print and electronic media supplied nighttime entertainments.”

Certainly in the modern era there is something quaint about a grown-up and a child or two sitting in a silence broken only by the sound of a single human voice. Yet how cozy, how impossibly lovely it is! Unlike tech devices, which atomize the family by drawing each member into his own virtual reality, great stories pull people of different ages toward one another, emotionally and physically. When my children were small, I would often read with my eldest daughter tucked in by my side, the boy draped like a panther half across my shoulders and half across the back of the sofa, a tiny daughter on either knee, and the baby in my lap. If we happened to be on one of our cycles through “Treasure Island,” Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling classic, my husband would come to listen, too, and stretch out on the floor in his suit and tie and shush the children when they started to act out the exciting bits.

“We let down our guard when someone we love is reading us a story,” Ms. DiCamillo says. “We exist together in a little patch of warmth and light.”

~ Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Great Gift of Reading Aloud

Comments

  1. I read to my sons for hours…………….I miss it so……………..

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  2. You always have a way of touching the heart. You have a gift. I read to my grandson — he’s into Pete the Cat. So am I. Forever.

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  3. Great post. This is one of the many books my granddaughter and I love.

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  4. One of my favorite books to read to my baby girls oh so long ago. I liked how they could finish the sentences 🙂

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  5. Good night light…and the red balloon …. how many times did I read that line, that book. Makes me miss the babies I read it to!

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  6. Christie says:

    Such a warm engagement this connection of storytelling and the attentive listening it brings…the wondrous, magical at times humorous, at times moving, illustrations of challenges overcome and of course thrill seeking moments that take place when words reveal….words expose, teach, bring forth enjoyment, enrichment and comfort…words read foster curiosity, understanding, build language, vocabulary and tell of a life different and or of life’s similarities…. the gift of reading and the gift of listening, so integral in growing our minds and hearts /// we do a lot of reading out-loud at my house & oral storytelling…

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  7. When I was teaching one of the daily activities was a half hour Read Aloud period. It allowed the children the chance to hear stories just a bit above their reading level and I am sure I enjoyed it just as much as they did.

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  8. Reading our bedtime story is one of my fav parts of the day with my kids and this is one of my fav books! Great post, thanks!

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  9. Tidal wave of happy memories. I was read to for HOURS as a child.nothing thrilled me more than to curl up by an adult with a book in hand. I don’t have kids myself, but read to my nieces whenever possible. Precious times…

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  10. one of my favorite parts of life.

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  11. I love those moments of sharing a book with children, however, the three little boys in my house now won’t sit still long enough for that to happen. I keep hoping.

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  12. Christie says:

    Yes, we do read out-loud (even on vacation) My husband reads non-fiction. Our daughter humor & manga and I read very little but when I do I read, a variety of work..I have a treasured photo of my husband and daughter from last fall or this spring. They are out in the garden, he in his lounge chair and she curled up in another chair. Her focus is on him, she is listening attentively to him reading, his adventure travel book..It took me back in my minds eye ..to a simpler life.. Our daughter, had an online comic for a few years it was interesting to watch her fine art drawing and her character development progress. Besides reading to her when she really young we came up with oral stories on the spur of the moment, one became a continuing series “The Further Adventures of “P” and “B. A Dave Barry book ” Dave Barry Does Japan” was sent by my daughter with her classmates on a trip to Japan. The book was passed around round robin style and read out-loud on the long flight. I’ve mulled over the idea of writing a children’s story book. .
    When our daughter was in elementary school, the school employed a women who came weekly to tell oral stories and to discuss elements of a story’s framework.. The students were also graced by the many gifts of a wonderful man,a fellow classmates father who was an American actor, professional storyteller, teacher, author, (children’s books) & illustrator. He had a syndicated radio show and he received two Emmy Awards for a TV program for children.. He was amazing..He left such a legacy that enriched & sparked the imaginations of so many children! My best memory of him was the gentle way he interacted with his wife and children. Such a gift to watch..

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  13. Fondest memories of my grandma are sitting in matching lawn chairs on her patio while she read to me. We always had 7-Up with her special plastic straws that had little spoons on the end. Storytime Ritual.

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  14. Goodnight Moon is one of my all-time favorite books! And Christie’s comment reminds me of stories my dad used to tell us about the adventures of Fudgey, Mudgey and Dudgey (there are 3 of us kids). Thanks for the wonderful memories everyone!

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  15. Christie says:

    Dave and Carolann thanks so much..Carolann, I am so glad you had the gift of a father who was involved in your life & so many happy times…Our friend the storyteller is missed by so many people, he died suddenly seven months ago..

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ah, what joy is found in the warm simplicity of tradition.
    -Alan

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  17. Ah, one of the things I will most about teaching is that half hour spent reading aloud to the children…..When my first child was very small, “Goodnight Moon” was her favorite book. I can still see her lifting her finger to her lips to say “hush”. Today I gave her a copy of this same book for her almost born baby daughter, my first grandchild!

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