The Sound of My Own Voice

So it seems that my days of reading aloud might be almost over.

Since Alice was born, nearly twelve years ago, I have read to my children. Reading aloud was especially important to Alice because for a long time, her dyslexia denied her the books that she most wanted to consume -- books like Agatha Christie, Harry Potter, Little Women, PG Wodehouse. Audiobooks at bed-time have always been a part of our family ritual too, but the cry of 'Read to me, Mummy!' or more simply, 'Read-y!' would ring through our house several times a day. I must have spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours, reading aloud.

But now Alice's reading has improved to the point where she can read Harry Potter on her own and research websites about pet rabbits for hours on end. She still needs audiobooks, but she doesn't ask me to read to her any more. Evie has been an independent reader since she taught herself to read in kindergarten; now she ploughs intently through multi-volume sagas about clans of warrior cats in a forest, or tribes of lost dragons, and taps out her own versions on the laptop at top speed.

For a while, the girls liked me to read to them while they were in the bath. I must admit I resisted this, because, frankly, it's bloody cold and uncomfortable in our bathroom, unless you're the one sitting in waist-deep hot water. So gradually I stopped; and now they're too modest to want me in there anyway; and now the habit's broken, and it just doesn't seem to happen any more.

Perhaps the last hurrah of reading aloud was our last family holiday in WA, where I read several volumes of Ivy and Bean to both girls, in quiet moments between excursions. The other book that both girls loved and begged for was 101 Dalmatians, which I must have read to them four or five times.

Maybe reading aloud will be a holiday thing now. Maybe when the next holidays come up, I might pull out The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and give that a whirl. Maybe I could even get Michael to listen in to that one.

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