Dear Friends ~ I can still remember the sensations—the reverberations—as a young child cradled in my mom's lap listening to one Berenstain Bears book after another. There was the way her breath tickled across my ear, and the vibration of her voice moving from her chest, against my back. The first summer I joined my in-laws on their lake vacation, I observed an aunt, huddled with her 8-year-old beneath a blanket on the couch, where she read a Tolkien novel to him. I wonder if her now-grown son remembers how she did all the voices and stopped to answer each of his questions as the story unfolded.
It's been eleven years since I began reading aloud to my own kids. It has become the spiritual practice I never anticipated: those shared, quiet moments facing (sometimes) hard and (often) beautiful truths about the world—about who we are. I'm most grateful for the ways these stories offer young people courage, imagination, and language when the adults in their lives simply don't know how to say it.
"You're finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world," Neil Gaiman writes, "And it's this: The world doesn't have to be like this. Things can be different." ~ Joy