Wonderful Times of Reading Aloud

imageIt has always been a joy to hear my sister Phyllis read aloud.  Till my last days, I will cherish a few days during school Christmas vacation in 1961.  Phyllis was enjoying reading Great Expectations in her ninth grade English class and offered to read a few pages aloud. Daddy was working second shift at the paper mill, so once he left and the remains of the noon meal were cleared away, we settled in the cozy living room for a reading.  I would have been eleven, Billy, eight, and Connie and Marilyn, two and a few months old.  Enraptured by the story of Pip, the cruel Estella, and the mad Miss Havisham, I would have probably saved the book first had the house caught fire.  I loved the kindly Jo and despised Mrs Jo, his mean sister.  Phyllis read for several hours as the babies played on the floor in the warm front room, enjoying being in the middle of us all clustered together around the reader.  We broke only long enough to get a simple supper together and do evening chores.  Soon we were back in place, where she held us till bedtime, happy captives.

The next day, we rushed through chores to be free for reading again, settling in as soon as Daddy left.  Phyllis read on and on, as we did whatever chores we could that didn’t, interfere with her reading, folding laundry, ironing, watching the babies.   Mother hemmed a skirt and hand-worked buttonholes in a blouse.  Mother just felt we couldn’t through another afternoon listening to Phyllis read.

The next day, and the next, Phyllis read as we hung on every word about foolish, arrogant Pip.  Finally, late on the fourth day, Phyllis finished Great Expectations,

leaving me questioning and hungering for more.  Why had Miss Havisham gone to so much trouble to be cruel?  How could Pip be so ungrateful and foolish?  What happened afterwards?

Phyllis read us many more books, to my great joy, introducing me to some great literature.



17 thoughts on “Wonderful Times of Reading Aloud

  1. I enjoyed hearing your love for your sister, and the memories. I loved being read to and remember my sister reading one of the Oz books to us and my father reading Peter Pan. Those are the only two books that were ever read to me, but I enjoyed the experiences so much, the memories really stuck.

    I had a bit of trouble fully relaxing into your post, for I hated Great Expectations with a passion (who knows why? I don’t), and never wanted to read Dickens forever afterward. Had I not had a crush on Dirk Bogarde a couple of years later, I would never have read A Tale of Two Cities after seeing him in the film. And that Dickens book, I adored : )


  2. Amy says:

    I still love listening to someone read aloud. It is such a joyful experience and you captured it so well. That book is one of my favorites and my daughter and I read it together.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How wonderful that sounds to me … the way your family was during reading time. I didn’t have someone read to me growing up, but when I had my own kids I’d read to them, until they could read to me! Thank you for sharing! Happy Monday!

    Liked by 1 person

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