Read it out loud!

Don’t you find some books are just MADE to be read out loud? Phrases stick in your head, and you can recite bits of them at will. How about “The Thirteen Clocks” by James Thurber:

This is how it starts:

“Once upon a time, in a gloomy castle on a lonely hill, where there were thirteen clocks that would’nt go, there lived a cold aggressive Duke, and his niece, the Princess Saralinda. She was warm in every wind and weather, but he was always cold. His hands were as cold as his smile, and almost as cold as his heart.”

A little later it says

“He was six feet four, and forty-six, and even colder than he thought he was. One eye wore a velvet patch; the other glittered through a monocle, which made half his body seem closer to you than the other half…”

Other books by James Thurber, “The White Deer” and “The Wonderful O” are equally read-out-loudable.

And how about Roald Dahl? Difficult to pick one. But how about these lines from Revolting Rhymes, the one about red riding hood?

“That’s wrong!” cried Wolf. “Have you forgot
To tell me what BIG TEETH I’ve got?
Ah well, no matter what you say,
I’m going to eat you anyway.”
The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She wimps a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature’s head
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.

When I was little my brother used to read me bedtime stories and a favorite was “Tam Sventon, Private Detective” by Ake Holmerg. I dont have a copy, but quoting from memory in a suitably solemn voice, “He looked like a hawk. If you can imagine a hawk with a beard.”

JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit is also great fun for reading out loud: This is where Bilbo first sees Smaug the dragon:

“There he lay, a vast red-golden dragon, fast asleep; a thrumming came from his jaws and nostrils, and wisps of smoke, but his fires were low in slumber. Beneath him, under all his limbs and his huge coiled tail, and about him on all sides stretching away across the unseen floors, lay countless piles of precious things, gold wrought and unwrought, gems and jewels, and silver red-stained in the ruddy light.”

My favourite passage to read out is the conversation between him and Bilbo. To be read in a suitably dragonish voice:

“Well thief! I smell you and I feel your air. I hear your breath. Come along! Help yourself again, there’s plenty and to spare!”

And how about A.A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh?

“Pooh,” said Rabbit kindly, “you haven’t any brain.”
“I know,” said Pooh humbly.


“Help, help,” cried Piglet, “a Heffalump, a Horrible Heffalump!” and he scampered off as hard as he could, still crying out, “Help, help, a Herrible Hoffalump! Hoff, hoff, a Hellible Horralump! Holl, holl, a Hoffable Hellerump!”

There’s nothing quite like listening to stories. Ive just bought the entire unabridge Lord of the Rings and cant wait to start listening to it. Its my way of getting into the right frame of mind for creative work. And there’s lots of stuff on line too: My sister Jeanne put me onto this fabulous story teller, Robert Munsch. On his site, you can download recordings of him telling stories. They are just fabulous. At the moment my favorite is “have to go!”

Which are the books you love to read out loud?

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jessica
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 19:58:05

    What wonderful books! I love reading, and have read most of the ones you have mentioned. The reasons why I love them is because of the word-images they paint. One of the things I look forward to most, when we finally have a child, is reading aloud to them.

    Here via NCLM

  2. Jessica
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 19:59:20

    oh…books I like to read out loud: Anything by Dr. Seuss, Little Bear,…I’m drawing a blank.

  3. masha
    Jun 20, 2008 @ 05:47:23

    Oh of course! Dr Seuss is the best read out loud.

  4. Kim
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 03:38:13

    I love to read books allowed that follow a rhythm, the don’t have to rhyme but that is fun too! nclm

  5. DC
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 04:18:13

    I read Harry Potter out loud to myself. 🙂

  6. Katie
    Jun 22, 2008 @ 13:14:30

    Via NaComLeavmo…
    Never mind reading aloud, I love the picture! Wonderful.

  7. masha
    Jun 22, 2008 @ 13:40:09

    Hi Katie – yes that’s the Duke from The Thirteen Clocks, drawn by Ronald Searle.

  8. Andie
    Jun 29, 2008 @ 03:52:24

    Great question! One of my favourites is “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service. My parents used to recite it to us as kids. If you’ve never read it, here’s a link I found:

  9. masha
    Jun 29, 2008 @ 06:31:55

    Hi Andie, thanks for that link. What a poem! “Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so” jeeez.:)

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