Logo Top Banner
slogan Alaska Timeline Alaska Kids About
Peer Work
Family & Community
Family Collections






Mom G and Mary


Oswald Stratford



Van Dommelen

Family Features

History & Culture
Digital Archives
Narrative & Healing
Reading & Writing
Libraries & Booksellers
Teaching & Learning
Contact Us

Search Peer Work Only
Sign up for newsletter
Find us on Facebook

Family and Community

Home  >  Family and Community  >  Family Collections  >  Lax
Reading Aloud
By Brian Lax

While I was growing up, reading was the only form of privacy available. I shared a room with my younger brother. My sister could close her bedroom door to us boys, but even she couldn't keep our parents from entering without knocking. We kids had no qualms at all about walking in on our mother in the bathroom. Hey, we had teeth to brush. The only way to escape these shared indignities was to lose oneself in a book. No wonder my interests tended toward fantasy and science fiction. I would emerge on the far side of a weekend steeped in a particularly gripping story, read through meals and late into the night, dazed and wobbly and blinking at my now unfamiliar surroundings.

Brian and Tziporah Lax
As newlyweds, my wife and I decided to read certain books aloud to each other in a fit of spousal bonding. On Friday nights (the Jewish Sabbath, which we reserved for intimate reflection) we could easily work our way through six hours, two bottles of wine, a pot of coffee, and at least a few chapters of a gripping memoir or travel narrative before our Sabbath candles burned down.

What had once been my unassailable retreat had now been thrown wide open. I had to get used to the sound of my own voice invading an artfully crafted story. I had to learn how to speak while listening and how to regather the thread of the story after a twenty minute digression. Sometimes, we couldn't get through five pages because we paused every few sentences to confirm, disagree, or share a tangential anecdote. The great joy was when we were truly able to shed the cares of the week – academic and financial stress, household minutiae—to reflect upon something larger. Reading provided a point of departure, and a place to return.

Now we have two children. Dinners last one hour, not six. Wine is consumed by the glass, not by the bottle. Interruptions endanger all forms of conversation. But our family read-aloud time, which has expanded well beyond Friday nights, is still our main vehicle for sharing entertainment, ideas, and experiences. Sometimes, when our 18-month-old has fallen asleep on my chest or is happily burbling in a corner with her toys, and our 5-year-old is curled serenely on the couch, listening astutely, our living room feels a lot less like Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and more like a college cafe.

Household privacy is still at a premium, as it was when I was a child. But there is compensation. When reading takes me to some distant, remote isle, there are three pairs of footsteps running next to mine. When we get lost in a story, we are all lost together.

Listen to Audio
IBM Text to Speech

Related Articles
The Lax Family On Sharing
Reading, Not Ritalin
Some Poem Excerpts
Homemade Books and Other Projects
Living Literature: Travels in John Steinbeck's Wake

  Contact Us       LitSite Alaska, Copyright © 2000 - 2017. All rights reserved. University of Alaska Anchorage.
University of Alaska Anchorage