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On Parenting
Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 09/22/2011

The National Book Festival and Medusa: Reasons to celebrate reading aloud

One of my favorite memories from childhood is my sister reading me stories. She and I shared a room and for a few months when she was studying Greek myths in her Latin class, she would lug out her book of myths. It was a beautiful oversized book that, for about a half-hour every night, unleashed one fantastical image after another.

Those stories of flying horses and snake-haired Gorgons were a gift that blossomed over the years; growing my imagination, my desire to learn to read; my love of words and books.

To this day, when I’m browsing in the library or bookstore or, increasingly, the Kindle storefront, I think part of me is searching for a story that will transport me as did those nightly sessions of being read to.

I’m indulging in this memory today for two reasons. The first is that the 2011 National Book Festival, which I wrote about earlier this week in a post on young adult fiction, is upon us. This year, it has been expanded to be a two-day celebration on the National Mall.

Among the dozens of authors and presentations at the free Library of Congress-sponsored event (Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept, 25, from 1 - 5:30 p.m.), there will be a Family Storytelling Stage.

A communal celebration of family reading? I’m in. It’s one of the best parts of being a kid, and now I realize, of being a parent, too.

My second reason is that just in time for the public celebration of books, I am having my own nostalgia festival. National Geographic has just published a new, beautifully illustrated compilation of my childhood memory: “The Treasury of Greek Mythology,” by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Christina Balit (September 2011). Forgive me for this cliche, but it’s my crumb of madeleine.

Tonight, my daughters will get to choose whether to hear about Hades, Demeter or Perseus and I’ll be thanking my sister for her gift that keeps blossoming.

What’s your favorite read-aloud story?

By  |  11:30 AM ET, 09/22/2011

 
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