Reading Aloud

Feb 22, 2011

Claire Watson - Riverton High School
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

I've written so many college application essays in the last couple of months that I almost didn't want to write another one for this contest.  I was so burned-out, and couldn't think of a topic once I decided to compete.  Then I remembered what I loved as a child: reading.  I was able to fly through this essay, as if my memories were commanding my pencil.  My essay is truly from the heart.

I am an active high school senior.  I play three sports, I am involved in many school clubs including thespians, student government, Spanish club, Hawk Pride, and TADAA, and I volunteer at my church and with my church Youth Group.  I love to sing, dance, and act.   My post high school plans are to attend a four-year university and major in Environmental Science.  How did I get to this point? This I believe: reading -- and reading aloud -- was fundamental in making me who I am.

“Once upon a time…”  Hearing those few words bring me so much joy, it’s quite indescribable.  It doesn’t matter what fanciful adventure follows that familiar phrase.  I know it will end with me smiling and wanting more.  Reading aloud has been a part of my literature-loving life for a long as I can remember.  Throughout my childhood, my mom and dad have encouraged a love of reading, resulting in a bookmarked paperback constantly at my bedside.  As much as I enjoy reading by myself, however, I love reading aloud even more.  

...reading aloud has given me quality family time, has empowered me with passion, and has blessed me with a love of reading.

In my early years, the long days of playing ended with my parents’ soothing voices reading an exciting, beautifully illustrated story, or perhaps a well-remembered favorite -- the paper rough around the edges but the images bright and colorful in my mind.  When my older sister and I learned to read, we took turns reading the nightly chapter, with Mom and Dad gently correcting and prompting.  During long car trips we read aloud: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods on our vacation to Pepin, Wisconsin to see her actual cabin, The Hobbit on a trip to Florida, A Little Princess, The BoggartThe Secret GardenThe Wind Boy.  These titles remind me not only of the books, but also the places we traveled and the fun we had in the car.  We even read aloud on camping trips.  I vividly remember each member of my loving family reading a couple of pages of Ella Enchanted.  The story came alive with beautifully painted pictures while the flickering flame of the fire danced on the words.  

Another favorite was Where the Wild Things Are, which we had in both German and English.  My Dad read the German version with great vigor; the roaring and gnashing became very wild indeed!  How many lessons did I learn from The Rainbow FishThe Hundred Dresses, or I’ll Love You Forever?  How many friends did I make on the streets of Paris with Madeline or in the Hundred Acre Woods with Winnie?

Because my family encouraged reading aloud at a young age, I believe I have benefited in wonderful ways.  I have confidence on stage and behind a podium, I can communicate well, and I know the importance of family.  Reading aloud is becoming a dying art I’m afraid, with the prevalence of social media, texting instead of talking, and use of the internet.  Most printed messages are read in a monotone and with little emotion.  But reading aloud has given me quality family time, has empowered me with passion, and has blessed me with a love of reading.  I believe in reading aloud!