NY Times Book Review, “Let’s Go Reading in the Car,” makes a good point!
Posted May 31, 2012on:
I enjoyed reading JUDITH SHULEVITZ’s article for the New Your Times Book Review, “Let’s Go Reading in the Car,” Published on Sunday,May 18, 2012, which extols the joys and best practices of listening to audio books in the car with your children.
These two pararaphs struck me in particular:
How did we human beings become the hypersocial creatures we are today?
The biologist E. O. Wilson credits fire, among other causes. In a recent history of human evolution, Wilson offers the following explanation: Fire was precious because it flushed animals out of the brush, then made it possible for people to cook them. Campfires had to be guarded, which made them like “nests” and made us feel safe enough to be “eusocial” or altruistic. Sounds plausible to me.
But I like to imagine that Wilson missed a step in his account of our early socialization: the moment someone first got up in front of the fire and told a story that showed the others — especially the children — the magnificence of the universe around them, and made them want to be bigger-souled than they’d been so far.
I love someone to read to me. I get a lot of pleasure laying on my 8 year old daughter’s rug, one of her fuzzy animals shoved under my head for a little comfort, listening to her read a story out loud. My grandmother (Grace Evangelyn Morgan Everson, we called her “Penny,” who was a 2nd grade teacher at John Strange Elementary School in Indianapolis for 30 years) spent hours of her life reading to my sister and I. Those stories (“Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “Charlotte’s Web,” all of Shel Silverstein’s poems and so, so many more) still spin magically in my head with images I made myself, the pure joy of being in her company, and comforting smell of her home. I also love listening to audio books.
Ms. Shulevitz talks about the wonderful voices who read the books (some better suited to the material than others or just better in general), but my take is that all the voices are terrific (some might be “better” than others), but all play second fiddle to my grandmother’s voice. As all would play second fiddle to the voice of a loved one who spends time with a child reading (or singing) stories.
And, to tie the goodness of audio-books into magic of Singable Picture Books, a lot applies. It applies, too, to the simple singing of songs together in a car or a loving adult singing a lullaby to a child at the bedside. No prize winning performance of any kind can beat that! As Ms. Shulevitz says, it all works to shed light upon the, “magnificence of the universe” around us (out in the wide-open world or the world we create in our cars) and makes us bigger-souled.