Last spring, while most of the world was closed, we opened a book for family read aloud.
There may be some privilege connected to a positive quarantine experience, but I think we can acknowledge a good thing here. Throughout this entire ordeal our family ranked pretty low in the hierarchy of suffering. Sure we didn’t get to play baseball or take ballet, to tailgate or shop at Target. We cancelled nearly everything, for more than a year, out of necessary regard for the fragility of life. I hesitate to take time and space to explain what it was like to spend twenty four hours a day in our home, all our nice clothes hanging frozen in time, all the earth's patience summoned every evening for bedtime.
We've always read to the boys at night, but never all five of us together.
We began last March with My Side of the Mountain, and since that trilogy have enjoyed Kate DiCamillo's Tale of Despereaux and Edward Tulane, several books by Lois Lowry and recently, William Steig's Dominic. Each novel has sparked conversation and connection. We've looked up vocabulary words and wondered about authors' inspiration. We've appreciated characters' resolve to do what's right, even without the reassurance of a happy ending.
Tolliver usually sprawls across the piano bench, Hank smashes against me on the couch, and Tucker, despite being a preteen, is still all in. I'm writing about it now mostly because I know this won't last forever. All winter the fire place burned and it felt nice to gather around the heat while the days were dark and cold and we were mostly stuck inside. For me, reading aloud was an exquisite distraction from the agony of figuring out pandemic school or ordering groceries via click and collect. It's light outside later now, and more things have begun to pull us in different directions. Yet, the boys wanted to start a new chapter book tonight. It's fantasy, which is far from my favorite, but family read aloud has a way of making life feel serene and buoyant, as if everything could float if you let it.