When I was growing up, my family had a “special book drawer,” and when we, the children, were particularly good (we were often particularly good), we were allowed to select a book from drawer and my mother would read the book aloud to us.
Among my favorites were the following:
A friend of mine picked up a copy of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day while at my house and started to read aloud from it (really, it is a book that demands to be read aloud), and I was surprised to find the words being read differently.
Read aloud, books beget tradition. For me, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day has always been voiced with a particular rhythm and cadence every member of my family is able to recite by heart. If I could post an audio clip I’d share it with you (although there’s a chance it would shock you as much as listening to my friend read the book shocked me).
Working in a bookstore, you can’t help but listen to stories and read passages aloud to others.
“Oh, listen to this!” is a common phrase here among the booksellers, and we all wait, in rapt attention, for the reading that follows.
I’ve never outgrown my need to listen to stories. I don’t think any of us have. Whether it’s listening to clips on This American Life, The Wire, audio books, or attending a reading, this need is pretty easy to see.
In my house we are currently reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit aloud. I think it’s a book that was meant to be read that way. Here are a few of my other read-aloud favorites and staff read-aloud recommendations for the older readers and listeners in your life:
Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse by Max Brallier
This one is a choose-your-own-adventure story for adults. It’s scary (no, really), offers many opportunities for discussion, and features zombies. What more could you want (aside from a blanket to hide under)?
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I just finished listening–yes, listening–to this book, and I am smitten. This story tells of Achilles through the eyes of his companion and lover Patroclus. Epic hardly begins to describe the wonder of this book.
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
If you haven’t yet heard a Sedaris story read aloud, you haven’t yet experienced the stories fully. Seemingly made for audible enjoyment, these stories will have you chortling if not laughing aloud.
Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
With all the Sherlock-based movies and stories being produced, going back to the original stories is a wonderful way to delve further into the world of one of the best-loved detectives. The stories themselves sound great read aloud and promote great discussions!
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
This book is a nature essay meets family memoir and will have you and your audience laughing and shaking your head in turns. A great family great for those who understand that one’s kin are often a source many oddities.
The Feather Room by Anis Mojgani
This poetry book is written by a slam poet, which means the work is meant to be read aloud or performed. Both energetic and tender, this is a wonderful collection well worth sharing.
Letters to Kelly Clarkson by Julia Bloch
We first came upon this book when a customer ordered it as a special order. Since then, we’ve become fascinated with this collection of unrequited correspondence, these prose poems addressed to Kelly Clarkson. There’s a certain intimacy in these pages we can’t quite put our fingers on but adore.
Alright, so there are a few read aloud recommends from our staff. What are your favorite read-aloud books?