When I started at Trinity in 2015, my experience in story-telling had, I might say, lapsed. I had some early experience reading aloud in my babysitting years of my early teens, but in the 10 intervening years , I hadn’t so much as picked up a picture book. My regular bookshop and library haunts had been entirely focused on YA, Fantasy, and History.
So, when in my second week in this new, scary job, I was faced with the prospect of reading aloud to 25 wriggly 4 and 5 year olds, I was pretty much aghast. Let’s just say that all my public speaking forays before this point had been less than impressive. Through school my speeches would be met with the criticisms of “rushed”, “panicked” “mumbled”, and all the more often, “Are you okay? You look like you’re going to faint!”
You can imagine my fear.
So I hit the shelves, looking for something that I could manage. I then recognised a name, B. J. Novak, not from reading any of his previous works, but from his acting work.
I found The Book with no Pictures. I read through it to myself, had a bit of a giggle, then as many millennials would, I went to YouTube, for a “tutorial” in how to read this book aloud. I found this:
I was determined I would replicate his presentation as best I could.. and I did! It was exhilarating, the boys were rolling on the floor with laughter. That book was requested week after week, we had to buy three additional copies, as our reserve list grew to over 20 boys waiting for the book. I read it again and again, week after week.
I branched out too, funny books, silly books, books that rhyme, books that SHOUT! This year I took another gamble, a video came up on my Facebook feed. Of a wonderful American Librarian, reading a book (This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt) with so much passion and spirit that I had to have it.
I was at home on my couch and I found the book online, purchased it, as soon as it arrived I was practising, stretching vocal chords that were only ever used in car-ride singalongs. I read it to Pre-Kindy, Kindergarten and Year One. I had them clicking their fingers, slapping their knees and tapping their feet! It was the most fun reading a book that I’ve had this year.
Reading aloud has quickly become my favourite part of my job. But, if someone had told my 16-year old self, reading a speech on Victorian-era England from cramped palm-cards, a speech that had been the requisite 5 minutes when practised at home, but 2 minutes when raced through in front of my peers. Well, she would have used some choice, less than complimentary language!
-By Courtney Nolan