July 30, 2010
Last summer, our family decided to embark on an impromptu weekend camping trip. It was our first outing in a tent beyond the wilds of our back garden and so the boys were excited, we were enthused, and the dog was downright giddy. It was the perfect time to head out as much like our present state of weather affairs, the sun was glaring brightly in what felt like an endless streak of hot days. In a desperate gesture to alleviate my guilt for not forcing the boys to be more diligent with their school assigned summer reading list, I tossed in a copy of James Herriot stories, endorsed by “the list”. We had great fun arriving at camp, setting up our abode, exploring the environs and cooking “camp” fare for dinner. After a lively contest of biggest-bubble-blowing we began to tidy up. Long low rumbles were starting to roll in the distance and the sky took on a gloomier look. Uh oh. We raced off to brush our teeth and made it back to the tent in time for the first few, but determined, drops of rain. In a panic we gathered everything in under the tent or into the back of the nearby car. Then the rain became seriously forceful! And those rumbles … much louder and now accompanied by dramatic flashes of lightning. The four of us, and our furry friend, all tumbled into the tent and zipped ‘er up. It poured. No. It POURED! Kudos to Camp Daddy who took that extra minute to tie down the rain shield “just in case”. We stayed dry and counted one-thousand-and-one, one-thousand-and-two …. That darn old storm was so intense and it cruised right over us. It literally made headlines in the next day’s news.
But was that the most memorable part of the adventure? It actually shared billing with the reading aloud (by Mom in her best English country accent and vet voice) of James Herriot’s stories. As we cuddled in the tent I read aloud by flashlight, one story, and then another and then … they kept asking for more! Now that the boys are teen and near-teen our night time tradition of reading before bed has sadly gone by the way-side; it’s hard to read a bedtime story to your kids when you’re often asleep before they are! But they loved this and so did I. Pretty sure the dog did too.
Reading aloud to children and teens has been studied and proven to be hugely beneficial to their academic achievement and general success in school. That’s all fine and dandy. I recommend you find a good book, candle-light or a flashlight, a cozy space in a tent or cabin and cuddle up for some good old reading aloud just for the sake of the treasured memories you’ll make.
We’re packing up for some vacation time in a cabin by a lake and in among the bug spray, the sunscreen and the bathing suits I’ll be tucking in a book to read aloud. James Herriott was a hit, Stuart McLean stories or Bill Bryson perhaps this year…? I won’t allow myself to be disappointed if the boys don’t cuddle up and tune in, but I have a pretty good feeling that even a year “cooler” they’ll still be game.