Read to Me [Tall Drink of Nerd – Book Week]

 In *Archives, Amy Robinson, BOOK WEEK

My parents read books to me. They were pretty busy people, Dad was a farmer and ranch hand, working up to 22 hours a day, 7 days a week. Mom had five kids to care for out in the middle of the country, but they read to me. Since I was the fifth of those five kids, and a late surprise at that, I’m pretty sure my brothers and sisters read to me as well. It’s time to thank them all for giving me a love of story that has lasted my entire life.

I don’t remember much about the first few years, but there is a tale my Mom likes to share of how I sat at my second birthday party and “read” The House that Jack Built. Because I had carried it everywhere with me and insisted that my family read it to me so many times, I had memorized the words and when to turn the pages. That might be a bit of a stretch of my Mother’s pride in an exaggeration, but I like that the legend has floated through my life with me, as a part of my origin myth as a reader.

Most of my reading was unsupervised after the age of seven. I remember discovering Salem’s Lot when I was in the 4th grade. While it totally freaked me out and made me terrified of the dark forever (yes, still to this day) I got hooked on Stephen King. I read a lot of the classics too, but lost myself in the worlds that the horror master created. Until my early 20’s I bought every book he wrote on the day it was released. Around that time, I discovered Clive Barker. Clive’s work came to me the way The House the Jack Built had, it was read to me.

During our first few years together, my boyfriend Seen would read to me as we were falling asleep. He had one arm wrapped around my shoulders and the other hand holding a Clive Barker novel. I know it’s not Shakespeare or Percy Shelley, but it was soothing and quite romantic. His voice rumbling on, guiding me through some alternate universe and eventually to sleep. That was one of the reasons I feel so in love with him. We still read to each other ocassionally. I just got him hooked on the novel John Dies at The End, by reading him the intro and Chapter 1.

There is a magic in reading to someone. You discover a new world together, adding the inflection as you hear it in your head and putting yourself into the story. It bonds the reader and the listener.

When my Dad was in the hospital, my siblings and I took turns reading to him. My sister, Janet, brought Willy Wonka and the Great Glass Elevator to the Oncology ICU ward where Dad spent a few weeks. The goofiness of that kid’s book, the made up characters and situations that were silly enough to make us all giggle, took us away from the trouble and pain. We were no longer in that hospital room, instead we were high above the earth, battling vermicious Knids. It helped to do more than just pass the hours, it brought some light into dark times.

My folks taught me to love books before I learned to walk, by reading to me. That gift has carried me through the highs and lows of life. I highly encourage you to give the same gift to someone you love.

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Showing 12 comments
  • Jeff Rogers

    Lovely. My mom read to me. Dr. Seuss. Tolkein. But Winnie the Pooh was our favorite. And I too read to her in the hospital when she was dying from pancreatic cancer: Winnie the Pooh. When I was a child and she read to me, she made me feel loved and valued. And I wanted to give her that same gift to help carry her out on a cloud of love…

  • Jeff Rogers

    Lovely. My mom read to me. Dr. Seuss. Tolkein. But Winnie the Pooh was our favorite. And I too read to her in the hospital when she was dying from pancreatic cancer: Winnie the Pooh. When I was a child and she read to me, she made me feel loved and valued. And I wanted to give her that same gift to help carry her out on a cloud of love…

  • Ernessa T. Carter

    This was a gorgeous post. It’s funny, because my mom read to me, and that was about it. From the earliest I can remember, I’ve always much more enjoyed reading to others than being read to. I read to my sister, to my daycare classmates, and I really enjoy the reading part of readings. Curiously, I’m not a good actress, but I’ve been told I’m a great narrator. This makes listening to badly narrated audiobooks hard for me, because I’m always thinking about how the actor could have captured the writer’s words better. One of the best aspects of my MFA is that when we brought in pages all the writers were assigned parts and then we read it back to the writer. It was a lovely gift for the writer, and I think it should be the staple of every writing program. But I can no longer bear to listen to my own words as read by other people. I like doing the reading. It makes me wonder who all considers themselves readers and who all considers themselves readees. 

    • Ernessa T. Carter

      Wait, I’m lying, there were two more important readers. My third grade teacher read us THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE and TOM SAWYER over the course of twos semesters. And our four grade teacher read us MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH, which I beyond loved. I can still remember not being able to wait for the next installments. What’s weird is that I could have totally read the books myself, but there was something great about getting a chapter read to you every week. Kind of like old-fashioned TV I suppose. 

    • Jeff Rogers

      I love doing the reading too! My wife and I read to each other sometimes. It’s a great courtship ritual.

      I love reading to children, too, partly because I have such fond memories of being read to as a kid. I still remember a friend of my mom’s visiting and reading to me from Wizard of Oz–much longer than my mom ever would. I don’t even know her name now, but I remember the occasion to this day.

    • Amy Robinson

      I loved reading to my nieces and nephews when they were little. Reading books to children is always fun! There is a lot more silliness and theatricality involved, especially for the very young ones. 

      I’m always a bit shy about reading aloud now, which is funny considering I used to be an actor. So I suppose I’m more comfortable as the readee.

  • Ernessa T. Carter

    This was a gorgeous post. It’s funny, because my mom read to me, and that was about it. From the earliest I can remember, I’ve always much more enjoyed reading to others than being read to. I read to my sister, to my daycare classmates, and I really enjoy the reading part of readings. Curiously, I’m not a good actress, but I’ve been told I’m a great narrator. This makes listening to badly narrated audiobooks hard for me, because I’m always thinking about how the actor could have captured the writer’s words better. One of the best aspects of my MFA is that when we brought in pages all the writers were assigned parts and then we read it back to the writer. It was a lovely gift for the writer, and I think it should be the staple of every writing program. But I can no longer bear to listen to my own words as read by other people. I like doing the reading. It makes me wonder who all considers themselves readers and who all considers themselves readees. 

    • Ernessa T. Carter

      Wait, I’m lying, there were two more important readers. My third grade teacher read us THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE and TOM SAWYER over the course of twos semesters. And our four grade teacher read us MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH, which I beyond loved. I can still remember not being able to wait for the next installments. What’s weird is that I could have totally read the books myself, but there was something great about getting a chapter read to you every week. Kind of like old-fashioned TV I suppose. 

    • Jeff Rogers

      I love doing the reading too! My wife and I read to each other sometimes. It’s a great courtship ritual.

      I love reading to children, too, partly because I have such fond memories of being read to as a kid. I still remember a friend of my mom’s visiting and reading to me from Wizard of Oz–much longer than my mom ever would. I don’t even know her name now, but I remember the occasion to this day.

    • Amy Robinson

      I loved reading to my nieces and nephews when they were little. Reading books to children is always fun! There is a lot more silliness and theatricality involved, especially for the very young ones. 

      I’m always a bit shy about reading aloud now, which is funny considering I used to be an actor. So I suppose I’m more comfortable as the readee.

  • Ernessa T. Carter

    I should mention that my husband is a readee, which I’m grateful for. 

  • Ernessa T. Carter

    I should mention that my husband is a readee, which I’m grateful for. 

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