This year, we began a few new Advent traditions. One of those is reading aloud the beautiful book, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
I made sure to purchase one with enticing illustrations and, after checking out a few versions at the library, I found the P.L. Lynch illustrations were my favorite, however there are quite a few choices.
I read the book many years ago, but never out loud. I am amazed at how the words flow off my tongue so naturally. The way Dickens writes is stunning and a perfect example of the type of books I want my children to be exposed to in a read-aloud.
While I realize A Christmas Carol is written in a language more easily understood by adults, my 7 and 5 year old are still enjoying it even if they are not grasping every word. The words are like music to your ears, somewhat like an opera performed in a foreign language, you do not understand what is being said but the sound of the words makes you connect with the opera in an emotional and beautiful way. Dickens sounds just like that, emotional and beautiful.
Unfortunately, we have read a few books aloud that I found myself wishing we could stop. I noticed the writing is not well done, the sentences don’t flow as I hoped, but the story-line is there and I want to show my children we don’t quit something we start. However, in my mind, I am wishing I could find a different way to get through them. We persevere but in the end I think we are all glad when they are finished.
Even my young children can recognize when a book is not written well. You can see their eyes glaze over and they begin to lose interest. When a book is written well, they are almost put into a trance. They come in closer, and are still as they listen. Even when they are not grasping every word, they are trying to take it all in because it sounds beautiful.
I know my kids are not getting everything that I am out of A Christmas Carol, and I would never expect them to. I believe exposing them to the well written, emotional story is something important. They know the basic premise already so we are building on that knowledge as we read, and the exposure to the language of Dickens is priceless.
Seeing their faces light up as they are brought into a new world as we read is worth every minute. I plan to read this every year as our tradition and I expect that they will catch more, see more and connect more with the story each year.
Your turn. Are you reading A Christmas Carol to your young children during this advent?