Characters as Friends
Well, I didn’t know it until just now, but today is World Read Aloud Day! If you didn’t know about this, click on this link for LitWorld and you can read all about it.
I read aloud to my boys (ages 8 and 11) pretty much every day. Yes, yes, I know they’re plenty old to read to themselves, but that’s not the point. The point is, I’m not a Monopoly Mom, and the lure of Battleship waned long ago. But reading? That’s something we can all do together that never gets old. Recently, we’ve been working our way through (on different nights) Tony DiTerlizzi’s The Search for Wondla, and the final book of the Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins. (We’re all a little worried about what that horrible author might do to our beloved Temp, or Gregor, or Boots, or their MOM for crying out loud! Ms. Collins has a nasty tendency to kill off characters we’ve grown fond of. My 8 y.o. will stop sometimes and very gravely announce that if “Temp dies, I’m going to pay a visit to that stinking author.” Brrr.)
Last night, Younger Son asked me very seriously “why Gregor was poor.” We had a long talk about it, but I ended up with a question for him. “You do know this is a story, right? That Gregor isn’t a real person, walking around, riding on bats. Right?” He said of course not, but the look in his eyes… it was plain he thinks I don’t know what I’m talking about.
Honestly, I probably don’t. Gregor and his friends are more real to my son than many of his relatives, I would imagine. He’s spent more time with Gregor than with some of his school friends, he’s cried for him, and laughed at his mischief. I know Gregor will stay alive in my son’s mind until he’s my age or older.
And why not? I still remember racing my way through Pippi’s adventures, then trying to get even closer to her by sleeping upside down in my bed. I remember dreaming about breadfruit, and — strangely, all these years later — I find myself writing about a character named Annika, and thinking about that other Annika who was my very proper friend when I was 8. Pippi is still more real to me than the kids I went to elementary school with, those interchangeable faces on the fading class photograph. Were they real? I can’t remember. Not like I remember Pippi.
So, this week, read aloud. Read to your kids, or your husband, or volunteer at a children’s shelter and read to those kiddos. Or read aloud to yourself — maybe a favorite childhood book?