Today’s audiences talk about seeing a movie. And we are very much a visually oriented culture. Yet, in Shakespeare’s day audiences would say they were going to hear a play because language was such an integral aspect of their culture.
Shakespeare knew this, of course, which is why he wrote his plays with rhyme, rhythm, homonyms, laced with ambiguity. He wanted his audience to hear the auditory beauty of language.
Modern audiences are more accustomed (or have grown more accustomed to) sound bites—quick bits of communication. No wonder eye rolls and twitches are commonalities when someone mentions Shakespeare—we are no longer used to the longer, more developed portents of language. We want quick and easy auditory digestion instead of the languid delight of a language banquet. ‘Tis a shame, yet supping upon a Shakespeare play is possible with a bit of effort.
Shakespearean plays are written to be heard and the Stratford-Upon-Avon wordsmith created the means to better enjoy his words by employing the following:
1. Read the lines with deliberation and emphasis. For example, Macbeth’s “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” does better with a slow pronounced repetition to emulate the tedious monotony of life.
2. Use punctuation as a guide by reading to the end stop rather to the end of the line it gives more meaning to the lines. This is known as enjambment, where the line overflows into the next line, much like a waterfall cascades flow smoothly creating movement. For example, in Romeo and Juliet, Juliet pours out her emotions for Romeo in one rolling, passionate wave:
When he shall die, Take him and cut him out in little stars, And he will make the face of heaven so fine That all the world will be in love with night And pay no worship to the garish sun.
Reading this passage out loud, carrying one line over into the next enhances Juliet’s feelings for her Romeo.
3. Be aware of accented words, pronouncing them with an extra syllable. For example “perfume’d would be three syllables, not two. Shakespeare would have done this to enhance the meter or rhythm of the line. Plus, it has the bonus of sounding fancier.
4. Know that Shakespeare presented his words with intention to paint pictures (no access to CGI) with verbal cues to ignite his audience’s imagination. He needed his words to create imagery since scenery and props were minimal on the Elizabethan stage. For example, when Juliet says, “It was the nightingale, and not the lark,/ That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear,” she is in her wedding bed with Romeo—she is no doubt as close to him as her heartbeat.
Reading Shakespeare can be an enriching, delightful experience when his words are read out loud with considerate digestion.
Usually I highlight the five star reads from the previous month as a Reader Roundup.
No five star reads in September.
Yes, this is disappointing to report. I read fifteen books and several were okay, some were meh, and a couple came close being a really good read. Keeping to my standards though, and no five stars.
This post will instead feature a really good author: Gary Paulsen. Yeah, the guy who wrote Hatchet. Yes, that story of a boy whose private airplane pilot dies en route to see his father and they end up crash landing in the Canadian wilderness. He survives moose, mosquitoes, and choke berries with only a hatchet. It’s the book my sophomore boys usually picked to read for their book report even though I know they have read it (again and again). It is a good book, but Gary Paulsen wrote more than Hatchet. In fact, he wrote around 200 books, five being related to Brian of Hatchet.
A phenomenal author who wrote mostly about survival, be it in the wilderness or just making through a dysfunctional life, Paulsen also wrote humorous stories and historical stories. He wrote with insight and knowledge. He was the type of writer who lived his stories which is one reason they are so engaging. He knew what it was like to live in the wilderness. He hunted, fished, sailed—he even ran the Iditarod.
Looking at a photo of him it is difficult to get past his grizzled hermit-in-a-cabin appearance. Yet, he was a wordsmith and loved to read books along with respecting and rejoicing in the wilderness.
Gary Paulsen passed from heart failure at 82 in 2021 and leaves a legacy of books that generations will discover and appreciate. His writing and his storytelling, especially his Brian stories are worthy reads at any age.
My husband, well past his middle school years, is absolutely enthralled with Paulsen’s books. His utterances of “whoa” and “wow” and guffaws of delight make me set aside my “grownup” books and reread Paulsen. I agree with all his observations, and we have great share sessions.
A really good read from a really good author is a treasure.
It’s obvious I’m a Book Booster. Reading, reviewing, writing. Celebrating access to books. Promoting reading. A book in hand whenever possible. Today’s national recognition is an everyday celebration for me.
I couldn’t fathom not having a book handy to read.
How about you? Is this a special day or an everyday note of recognition?
In case you missed it in September, you can also decide to read a new book in December.
Then again, it doesn’t have to be a designated month for me to read a book. And if I haven’t read it yet it’s a new book to me.
Having librarian experience, both paid and volunteer, for over fifteen years, creates in me this urgency to promote reading. Now that I am in the classroom I promote reading to my students with having them read the first 10 minutes of class. Their reactions range from groans to smiles. There seems to be a firm indication that reading is either in terms of endearment or terms of endurement among teens I have encountered in the last few years.
Anyone have a study on how reading fares among our youth?
As for me—I began to seriously get into reading in fifth grade, prompted by my teacher (Hi, Mr. Cassidy) and have increased my passion for holding words upon pages (no thanks Kindle—gotta turn those pages, feel that paper).
In fact, I just hit my reading goal of 101 books for the year just the other day and I still have time and inclination to keep going.
How about you? Do you have a reading goal? Have you read any new books lately?
April 7, 2020 my debut picture book, Someday We Will, arrived and then accessible venues shutdown. It’s definitely challenging trying to promote a book when libraries, schools, and bookstores are closed.
Even though creative promotional endeavors emerged, there is nothing quite like sharing the book with a live audience.
The local library reopened public events with its first storytime held in their new garden area June 19, 2021. Leading off the first storytime in over a year was an honor and an absolute delight.
Kimber, the youth services librarian and several library staff members, worked hard to create the event. Library storytime in a library garden is an ideal venue for a picture book that celebrates the joy of doing outdoor activities together.
After reading the book we blew bubbles, created sidewalk chalk art, jumped rope, and made Someday Jars. All accomplished in an hour!
One book pops up as the June spotlight read: Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian.
Though it was published in 1986, it has an old-fashioned story cadence to it, being almost a Dickens novel in scope.
The story has so many deep issues that it is surprising it is considered a children’s novel. Child abuse and abandonment are two central issues. There is also the painful experiences of children evacuated from London to billet safely out in the country with strangers during WWII. Magorian weaves these and other issues in with her engaging story of matching a young malnourished boy, William, with a flinty widower, Tom.
Tom’s unhurried persistence to helping William settle in hastens the boy to heal both physically and emotionally, and as a result Tom also begins healing of the grief over losing his wife and child forty years earlier.
The joy of childhood, making friends, trying out new experiences, and the deep bond of friendship comes singing through the expressive prose. A thoughtful perspective of how the London evacuees fared as well as those who took them in during the war. For those who enjoyed Carrie’sWar, Goodnight, Mister Tom is recommended.
After a year of shutting down most public programs, our local library is opening up one of their most popular programs: Story time. The best part is I’m going to lead off a summer’s worth of local author reads. If you are in the neighborhood be sure to drop by!
That’s a big oops. My carefully planned blogging schedule has blown up due to malaise. I admittedly got caught up in the Winter Slumps and thought about posting but didn’t. I did read, though, which helped keep me occupied during the looonnng evenings (dark at 4 pm is cruel). Spring is now here and that means sunshine has restored my energy levels.
In order to get caught up I will select the favorites reads from the last three months to review. These are all five star reads.
Once upon a time, in the land of Russia, lived a charming count by the name of Alexander Rostov. And while it might seem demeaning to compare A Gentleman in Moscow to a fairy tale, Towles has deftly tweaked all the elements of that endearing (and enduring) genre into a sophisticated story that is enthralling, entertaining, enlivening, and quite satisfying. The bonus is once I learned Kenneth Branagh was Rostov in the planned series, the enjoyment became doubled as Branagh fleshed out Rostov’s appearance in my mind’s eye. One of the best reads I’ve experienced in quite a long time
The Art of X Ray Reading reminds me of Thomas Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor. Both books prompt me to practice closely reading the book in hand. While Foster provides a magnifying glass, Clark provides a kaleidoscope to better see the rich colors within the writing. His choice of books are hit or miss with me, but he did touch on a couple of favorites that I will absolutely pay more attention to on the next reading. The writing lessons alone are worthwhile and are inspiring. I applied the X Ray lens to an AP Lang lesson and brought new meaning to the piece. I look forward to my next AP Literature class and seeing how students pick up The Great Gatsby clues. Makes me wish I could teach Creative Writing once again.
Shades of The Maltese Falcon drift through this tribute to the 1940’s detective novel. Instead of a tough private investigator who runs with fast women and drives a faster car, readers contend with the “Princess P.I., a savvy socialite who has earned a reputation for being one of the best in the business. At first the cliche phrases and situations were off-putting, that is until I accepted them as pastiche. A solid plot worthy of a Bogart film, intrigue and humor, and a double storyline create a fast-paced read and an anticipation for the second book.
An amazingly positive story of how one man turned trash into a treasury of music. The story and colorful illustrations blend and harmonize as the background story of Paraguay’s Recycled Orchestra is told through Ada and her violin. Truly inspirational how beauty was found among the tons of garbage and how a dream became a reality that changed lives.
As a tribute to the recent passing of Beverly Cleary I grabbed Henry and Ribsy off the library shelf since she was an author I appreciated growing up. Granted, some of the situations and attitudes are a bit dated; however, kid and dog antics run true and are timeless.
When I first read F451 back in my twenties I no doubt appreciated Bradbury’s lyrical warning of a supposed future. This last read is a revisit due to both curiosity if it’s as good as I remember and because we are studying it as a class in AP Lang. Yes. It’s still as good. Wait–it’s much, much better due to Bradbury’s future coming fast upon us.
Books like The Borrowers, a tiny family in a big world, enthralled me as a child. Somehow, The Return of the Twelves, which echoes believing the unbelievable, escaped my reading attention. As an adult, and a “brontyfan,” I appreciate this story so much more. It’s rather a back door introduction for young readers to the brilliance of Charlotte and her Bronte siblings. The story itself is typical of the sixties, where children are precocious and are possessed of much more independence than their contemporary readers. Parents are presented as absent-minded, patronizing, or clueless of their children’s lives. Clarke’s story presents a likable cast of characters, particularly Max, who becomes protector of the Twelves or Young Men. His responses to their animation have a sense of verisimilitude as he both indeed at their existence while remaining fiercely protective of them. The plot cleverly provides the actions of the Twelves through a combination of the present and through Max’s imaginative efforts. At times the plot wobbles on timeworn, but will suddenly turn the corner with a refreshing twist. A satisfying read for those who like adventure and can still believe at least six impossible things before breakfast.
A quirky book difficult to place genre-wise. Love story? Quest? Mystery? Not muchly magical realism? In some ways it reminds me of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist in that an ordinary young man begins to discover the extraordinary by stepping out of his comfort zone. Love In Lower-Case explores how it is too easy to fall into a routine, desiring for a change and when change begins to happen, it is difficult to accept. A likable character, odd circumstances, a mysterious cat, an annoying stranger, and a Yoda neighbor all mix together for a satisfying, though not earthshaking weekend read.
I would like to think as a young reader I would have appreciated the skillfully crafted story of a young Jewish man who discovers that love is stronger than hate, especially when facing such a fearsome enemy as the Romans; however, I doubt that I would have. I am ever so impressed with The Bronze Bow—its plot, setting, details, message. And the ending. The ending is absolutely stunning. As an adult I am absolutely impressed and moved, and I would like think my young reader self might have recognized the value of Speare. Maybe.
So many good reads kept my wits from dullifying totally through this last long winter. I can’t imagine not having a book to read.
Let me know if you’ve read any of these, or if I have tempted you to plump out your TBR list.
Ah, August—the last month of summer. The weather is still amazing with its warm days and blue skies, essential ingredients for reading in the backyard hammock. I made good use of blogger suggestions and kept my library busy with hold requests. Unfortunately, the library has returned to only providing curbside service which means I no longer can browse the shelves and can request an unsatisfying six books at a time. *Sigh*
Some incredibly fun reads in August:
Frindle by Andrew Clements ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
How Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Coffee with Shakespeare by Stanley Wells ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Dragonwyck by Ana Seton ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Onion John by Joseph Krumgold ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
The View from Saturday by E.L. Koningsburg ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
Carry On, Mr Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Bears ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyeau ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmasof the Reading Life by Anne Bogel⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
Yes, there were quite a few kid selections this month. I am trying to read all the Newbery winners, many I have read, but I have missed a few over the years. It’s never too late to enjoy a well-written kids’ book!
An update in statistics:
Hit my Goodreads goal of 101 books
I have read most of the Newberry winners
Read 55 books this summer (a number of them were children’s books, I grant that fact)
The library is opening its doors once again on September first!
Throughout the summer I appreciated the library’s curbside and inter-library loan service. I’m not sure what I would have done without the availability of books to checkout.