Thursday, October 04, 2012

Wrinkle Read-Aloud

A momentous event at our house this week...we've begun reading A Wrinkle in Time during morning reading time.

It was such an important book to me when I was around eleven. Although I hadn't put a whole lot of thought into when to introduce it, I guess I always had "eleven" in the back of my mind as the magic number. I'm not sure I had thought of it as a read-aloud either, given the fact that when I first read it, I fell into it headfirst on my own steam. But then, nobody really read aloud to me when I was a child (at least not much, and not onto in later childhood).

If I had thought about it at all, I think I assumed I would likely give the sweet girl Meet the Austins sometime this year. She's been acquainted with the Austins her whole life because I have about a quarter of a century tradition of reading The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas every Advent, and she was born somewhere in the middle of that tradition and joined it early. She's always liked that story and so it seemed a natural extension to move her on to the rich, middle-grade goodness of Meet the Austins, a lovely book of Madeleine's that I don't think gets enough attention.

But then we were discussing possible reads for our homeschool group this fall (we try to do a monthly book, with families coming in ready to discuss it on a given Friday) and I found myself suggesting Wrinkle. It's kind of funny how it happened -- we'd asked the two older kids, the sweet girl and her good friend (whom I'll call science boy) what kinds of books they'd like to read this year. We're mostly pitching to the two of them in our group, since the rest are littles more or less along for the reading ride. Science boy immediately said "let's read something with spaceships...and aliens!" and not a heartbeat behind him, sweet girl said, "let's read something girlish!"

Now there aren't many books that fit both bills, but Wrinkle comes awfully close. Granted, the elegance of tessering does away with the clunky need for spaceships, but there are "aliens" -- beings who live on other planets and even visit our own. travel, check. Aliens, check. Then there's the added bonus of a girl protagonist. And not just any girl protagonist, but the wonderfully gawky, braces-wearing, scraggly-haired, impatient, math genius Meg Murry -- and seriously, don't you just feel like hugging Madeleine right now, for gracing the world with Meg?

So I said "How about  A Wrinkle in Time?" and everybody said yes, and we picked October as our reading month for it.

I could have just handed the sweet girl the book...but she is just past ten, and does love being read to still. Plus we have a tradition of reading the homeschool books together. Plus -- true confession -- I just couldn't bear being left out of it. It had not occurred to me how momentous it would feel to read Wrinkle with my daughter. Nor had it dawned on me that apparently I've never read the book aloud. I have recommended it to countless people over the years -- I think I could seriously make a list of people I introduced to Madeleine L'Engle (I'm pretty sure reading the time trilogy was a prerequisite for anyone who dated me in college) but I don't think I've ever read it aloud.

Doing so has been a delight but also a bit bizarre. How does one pronounce Uriel -- with a short or long u? How do you reeeaaad ttthhee ssstammmering words of Mrs Which? For that matter, how do you read Mrs Who's Greek quotes when you don't know how to read Greek? What does Calvin sound like? How do you make Charles Wallace sound like a petulant, normal five year old somehow tinged with mysterious otherness? How do you change Mrs Whatsit's voice when she metamorphoses from one kind of being to another? (In the end, I decided not to.) And wow, the Black Thing -- it's pretty scary.

Those are some of the questions and thoughts that have been running through my mind as we've read the first few chapters together this week.

Oh...and in a marvelous bit of serendipity...the amazing "you could not possibly have scheduled this to happen if you'd tried a million times" kind...we are also re-reading Magician's Nephew as our bedtime read aloud. Today I got to read both Mrs Whatsit's flight with Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace on her back and Fledge's flight with Digory and Polly on his back. I am a very happy reading woman.


Tabatha said...

Great post :-) I enjoyed hearing your thought processes regarding choosing Wrinkle and also regarding reading it aloud. I probably read it when I was about eleven and it was a favorite. (I haven't read it out loud though.)

Beth said...

It really has been interesting reading it aloud because I feel like I know it by heart! I've read it so many times. Taking something that's always been so interior and exteriorizing (sp?) it is challenging!