Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reading Aloud - The Joy of Family Time

Sometimes I just like to hear my own voice, so I used to wait until nobody else was home and sit down with whatever book I was reading and read it aloud to myself. It never lasts long - I always forget to grab a glass of water so my throat gets dry and I give up, or I end up feeling silly reading aloud to myself.

Now that Olivia is a part of my life, I can fill the void of hearing my own voice by reading to her. The only issue there is her books are very short and it's hard to turn the pages of her board books because they're so thick. The reading is choppy and we spend more time looking at the pictures than talking.

The solution to my egotistical dilemma came about with the arrival of The Hunger Games Trilogy. Trey and I listened to the first book together and got very into the story, so ran into a roadblock when deciding who would get to read the second book first. Whoever read the second book first would have to keep all the plot points to themselves until the other person had time to read the book. Neither of us liked that proposition so we're reading the book aloud to each other. Each night - when we have the time - we take Olivia up to our room and Trey plays with her while I read to us then Trey reads to us while I put Olivia to bed. I get to hear my own voice while sharing an exciting story with my family - what could be better!

The bonus perk is the family time. I know that while we're reading the book aloud nobody will get up. The only other sound is Olivia's laughter at whatever toy Trey is shaking at her. This time together is absolutely perfect and I love that it's a book bringing us together and that Olivia is learning how special moments can be created through reading.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rediscovering Childhood Favorites

This isn't going to be a book review. The book I'm reading right now has started off incredibly boring, so it's going slowly. Instead, I wanted to share the joy I've been getting from reading to my daughter. Yes, Olivia is only five months old so the books I read her don't really sink in, but reading to her gives me the opportunity to revisit favorite books from my childhood. Of course there are the staples - books all children get read to them - Good Night Moon, The Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are, and the assorted Dr. Seuss titles. Olivia has all of those. I'm talking about books like Madeline, Ferdinand, and The Five Chinese Brothers.

My childhood recollections of these books didn't include the stories. Before rereading, I could have only told you that Madeline gets her appendix removed; I remembered nothing else. Yet these books, along with so many others, were a major part of my early childhood. Olivia has all of these books at her fingertips and is quickly approaching the time in her life when books will begin to appeal to her. It makes me wonder which books will stick in her memory, what she'll end up reading to her children someday.

I've begun a list of books to buy Olivia. They only include titles that looked familiar to me. I'm trying to keep the list down to books that will be relevant for her within the next year or two, but it's hard. I found myself adding the Ramona Quimby books to the list and she won't be ready for those until third or fourth grade. I even have the Little House on the Prairie series sitting in a cabinet for her and bought Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland on sale last month.

I don't even know if Olivia will read actual books as she grows up. Everything might be electronic by then (it's a sad thought) but I find myself getting so very excited by just the thought of sharing books with my daughter. I want her to love to read, no matter the medium and I hope that my joy toward the books on her shelves is contagious. I hope we, as a family, always have time to read together.

Thanks for indulging my little rant :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

No Angel by Penny Vincenzi

No Angel is a soap opera masquerading as a novel and as a soap opera, it's fantastic. Each dramatic scene could be played out on noontime television with the "da da dum" suspenseful music in the background. It's totally absorbing and addicting.

The first book in the Spoils of Time Trilogy, No Angel follows the Lytton family through multiple generations. The story covers the lives of each family member, the good and bad bits, the perfect moments, and the indiscretions. At the center of this complex family is Lyttons, a family-owned publishing house. While not all members of the family are employed by Lyttons, publishing plays a central role in all their lives. It's the force that pulls our heroine, Celia Lytton, out from behind her socialite status, putting her behind an office desk instead. It brings people together in love and serves as a microcosm for how WWI affected life.

The characters are fully developed and you really get to know them through their experiences, thoughts, and feelings. The writing does more than just tell a story, it chronicles the lives of an entire family - parents, children, in-laws, siblings, spouses, and lovers. The picture feels complete. All the drama could have happened to anyone, anywhere, and at any time, but it's especially interesting to get an inside look at an early 20th century publishing house while feeling the everyday effects WWI had on people's lives.

No Angel is an engaging and exciting book - more than just a beach read, but perfect for someone looking for a novel to escape into.