Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Finding the Voice

I love reading out loud. It's probably my favorite thing to do when I'm teaching. I am pretty good at it too, if I do say so myself.

My favorite read-aloud book of all time is Of Mice and Men--mostly because I just love to do Lennie Small's voice. I've seen a couple different versions of the movie, and my voice for Lennie is a combination of John Malkovich's Lennie with a little sprinkle of Randy Quaid's Lennie too (this was a made for TV movie that came out in the 80's--can't find a clip for it). When I start in on Lennie's voice each time I read it, my students perk up. By the end of the novella, most of them are so glued to the story, they mourn along with George when he...well, I won't tell you; don't want to spoil the ending.

But I've discovered a new favorite book to read aloud: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Yeah, it's long, and I've only read a total of 4 chapters aloud to my students so far, and my voice is already getting scratchy--but really, I should multiply that 4 by 3 since I've got that many sections of sophomore English. And I do assign reading homework each night, but I get so addicted to reading out loud to them, to getting into Huck's southern twang and trying my hand at Jim's negro slave dialect, I just can't help but read it out loud. For some kids, the kids who can't or won't do their reading homework no matter how many chapter summaries I assign, this is the only place they will engage in this book.

And I figure it's my job as their English teacher to make that encounter as memorable as possible. I've already been stopped by former students and other teachers who can hear me in their classrooms when I get into full swing. "So," they say, "you're reading Huck again." I think I can detect a twinge of jealousy in their voices. Maybe they want to sit in on my class and hear me read.

Or maybe I'm just flattering myself.

Whatever the case, I like reading out loud and I intend to continue doing it until I lose my voice.


jen said...

I get it. I love to read out loud, too. Thankfully, I have a kid who loves to be read TO!
I like children's books to read aloud. My fave is Monster Mama. Oh my gosh is that ever fun!!

David said...

I've got a pretty good interpretation of Curious George and all the characters in the book about the Pancake Breakfast.

Kir said...

Dave, I'd like to hear your Curious George impression sometime. ;)