Every night before bed, I (or Cowgrit) read books to our boys. Each boy picks out what they want me to read, and we settle down in my and Cowgrit’s bed, with me in the middle and a boy on either side. The choices of what to read range from a comic book to a kids encyclopedia — whatever they want. Often I also get Calfgrit8 to read to us.
A couple weeks ago, I offered to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (or There And Back Again). It’s been a couple and a half of decades since I read this book — back in early high school — so although I remember the story pretty well, I had forgotten the actual text.
I remembered that The Lord of the Rings was dense with archaic language, (as I’ve read bits and pieces of those books in the last ten years), but The Hobbit is supposed to be a children’s book. Although I don’t remember having trouble reading it as a teenager, and I can read it in my head easily enough, reading it aloud is very different. I think I sound like Mushmouth of Fat Albert’s gang. Maybe it’s my Southern accent; reading Old English with a Southern drawl.
The story is a lot of fun, and Calfgrit8 is enjoying it immensely, despite my mangling of the language. Before starting it, to get his interest, I told him the book was about a hobbit, a group of dwarves, and a wizard — I had to explain what a hobbit is — on a journey to recover the dwarves’ home and gold from an evil dragon. I told him they would encounter trolls, elves, goblins, giant spiders, and a strange creature called Gollum.
So far we’re only up to the group’s arrival in Rivendell. I have a bookmark that folds out to show a map of Middle-Earth, and we keep checking it to track their journey through the lands.
When I suggested I read this book to him, I didn’t realize just how difficult it would be to read aloud. Had I remembered, or had I checked before mentioning it, I don’t know if I would have agreed to read it each night. I might have just waited till he was older and could read it on his own. Even if I’m not ruining the story with my reading aloud, there’re lots of words I’m sure he doesn’t understand yet.
But he’s still showing interest, and he said tonight he wants us to read it every night until we finish it. So I guess I’m doing something right.