Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Meryl Streep”

Read Me a Story

One of my favorite classes in college involved learning how to read picture books out loud to children. Yes, and we did get credit for doing so. This class gave me real life skills. For true.

I learned there is a proper way to hold the book when facing the audience.

  • First of all, sitting down facing your audience, you hold the book’s bottom spine stretched out on your forearm.

*By the way if you are looking for a dazzling, scintillating meme-worthy Prezi, it ain’t happening*

  • You then read sidewise, yet facing your audience because eye contact is quite important. This is easier than it sounds because picture books usually have more illustration than words.
  • It is then important to properly turn the page. This is done by reaching over and across the top of the book, sliding the first two fingers done the present page and the next, and pulling the page over for the next spread. NOTE: though commonly practiced, it is not in the best interest in the book’s wear to turn from the middle bottom, especially towards the inside spine. Rippage and tearage can occur in doing so.
  • Proceed throughout the entire book in the proscribed method.
  • It is also important to use appropriate voices for characters, and it can be highly desirable to create separate voices for each given character. NOTE: characterization voices are best done by those who can do so without creating havoc among the audience. For example: if your Cockney mouse is such a smash hit your audience might laugh to the point of interfering with the story’s progress.
  • Body language is  also important. Leaning in to emphasize special junctures, or pausing for same can add a delightful amount of drama and dimension to the story.

I believe the course to be quite edifying and suggest signing up should the adult education flyer come through the mail. Today I utilize those skills reading to the grandkiddo, although I use my snuggle reading skills instead. I have read stories to my high school students. Yes, that is one reason I am known as the weird English teacher.

Then again, there are those who possess natural skill at reading and technique does not actually matter. Case in point is our boy Sherlock.

Have you a favorite technique for reading stories?  Or better yet–any famous readers you’ve come across? One of my most favorites is Meryl Streep’s audio book reading of Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter.



A Woolf in Read’s Clothing


My first vague acquaintance with Virginia Woolf is associated with Elizabeth Taylor. Both are pivotal influences in their chosen professions.  As a last wave baby boomer cI recall a bit of a fuss when the movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? came out.  Not being a Disney-generated flick my parents did not take me to see it.  In my childhood bliss of perceptual naiveté I believed Elizabeth Taylor to be Virginia Woolf and from the TV trailers she appeared to be a daunting person.  I could see why some might be afraid of her.


My second encounter with Virginia Woolf came way later when I began teaching high school English. Woolf’s essay “A Room of Her Own” was part of the senior lit curriculum, a prelude to a brief study in feminist writing.  Still getting my bearings about Shakespeare, I discovered through Woolf’s essay Shakespeare had a sister! I thought him to be like Atlantis, known but unknown, shrouded in mystery, waiting to be actually proven.  A sister?  It sent me scurrying to dedicated research and though Woolf got it all wrong about Willie’s sis, I now know much more about the Bard.


The third encounter came way of Meryl Streep.  She’s a fave, so I couldn’t resist picking up The Hours at the library.  Fascinating film (I admit some parts tweaked my comfort zone and my daughter squeaked, “you watched The Hours!”–my prudery is too well-pegged by family members). What truly fascinated me was Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf.  No wonder she received the Academy Award for her performance. A tortured artist always leaves me wondering  the why/what behind the reason of taking his or her  life instead of living it.


Finding Virginia a bit overwhelming I didn’t do my usual research and read on her. To be honest, although she intrigued me,she also made me nervous, much like James Joyce.  So much, almost too much in their writing for me to comprehend and absorb.  I felt unprepared to read her works.

At present I am a tiny bit more confident having an AP Institute training and one year of AP Senior Lit and Comp seated firmly on the resume.  I thought, “Okay, Ginny, let’s give it a whirl.”  I pulled down Orlando off the shelf and settled in for my summer chaise in the shade read.


I wonder if her writing would have been published if her husband had not set up Hogarth Press expressly for that purpose? Her writing is amazing, this is true. It’s rich, masterful, and paradigm pushing. Deemed ahead of its time, both Virginia and her writing nevertheless appeared to be respected and applauded.  Overall, I will have to pass on Virginia Woolf and her modernist approach to literature.  She and James Joyce are just enough of a different cup of tea to not be on my reread list.

I followed through on my research since I did not do my read on her.  I will definitely include her in my overviews on modernists. Virginia Woolf  may not be among my chosen authors; however, I do acknowledge her place in the literary hall of fame.


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