Reading Aloud to Children

“Don’t stop (I say) to explain that Hebe was (for once) the legitimate daughter of Zeus and, as such, had the privilege to draw wine for the Gods. Don’t even stop, just yet, to explain who the Gods were. Don’t discourse on amber, otherwise ambergris; don’t explain that ‘gris’ in this connection doesn’t mean ‘grease’; don’t trace it through the Arabic into Noah’s Ark; don’t prove its electrical properties by tearing up paper into little bits and attracting them with the mouth-piece of your pipe rubbed on your sleeve. Don’t insist philologically that when every shepherd ‘tells his tale’ he is not relating an anecdote but simply keeping ‘tally’ of his flock. Just go on reading, as well as you can, and be sure that when the children get the thrill of the story, for which you wait, they will be asking more questions, and pertinent ones, than you are able to answer.”—(“On the Art of Reading for Children,” by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.)

This precisely how Miss Mason approaches reading to children. A tiny bit of preparatory remarks, sufficient to fill a few minutes at most is recommended for books that may need a bit of seasoning to draw the children. However, endless worksheets, long lists of vocabulary words, fill in the blank questions, and even (dare I say this), lapbooks, are simply not necessary. In most cases, they are a distraction from the real work of the mind, which, as I have said before, occurs in the mind. A final and important step in that work of the mind is for the mind of the child to reproduce some of his mental processing for others, to communicate that knowledge. This is narration.

I found the quote at the end of Van Loon’s- The Story of Mankind

It’s in Lecture VII of Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch’s book On The Art of Reading

vintage books quiller-couch reading aloud

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