When I was a kid, my parents read to me a lot. Until I was big enough to follow along with their reading, I had a hard time just listening. I regularly spaced out for several minutes at a time when all I could do was listen. I remember one time when my mom was reading one of the “Little House on the Prairie” books to me, when I stopped her and asked her something about the plot. She responded, slightly frustrated, “we just read all about that!” and I knew I’d been “absent.” (I was careful not to ask simple plot questions anymore.)
When I started learning how to read at ages 5-6, something about being able to understand the words on the page brought the books alive for me. I could finally pay attention to the plots and lose myself in the stories.
But then in 3rd grade, when I’d been reading for several years, my third grade teacher, Miss Crain—a wonderful woman who I knew for the rest of her life—read our class part of a story every day. Again, I couldn’t see the words so I sort of drifted in and out of all the books she read to us. Most of the students in my class LOVED being read to. It struck me how the kids who didn’t normally do very well in school were nevertheless excellent listeners who seemed to thrive on Miss Crain’s story time. Meanwhile, here I was, one of the best students in the class, and I couldn’t even pay attention because I couldn’t read along with her.
Anyway, because of my childhood experiences not being able to listen to someone read a book to me, I’ve always avoided audiobooks, otherwise known as books on tape or books on CD. I thought I couldn’t “hear” stories, that I needed to read along with them.
But I got immensely sick of listening to NPR in my car, and I didn’t have any new CDs to listen to, so one day in the library, about 6 weeks ago, I checked out a CD on tape, The Thirteenth Tale.
I have a 25-minute drive every morning and every evening. There’s no traffic, just cornfields.
During this morning’s commute, I finished listening to “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith. It was published in 1943 and I loved it.
This book is about a young girl growing up in Brooklyn before & during World War I. I would have enjoyed it as a teenager, but I still appreciated it as an adult, too.
So today over my lunch break, I have a special mission—to choose my next book on CD at the library. I can hear them!