I still haven’t been able to sit down long enough to write my review of Daniel Pennac’s The Rights of the Reader, but it’s coming. So for now I’m giving you an excerpt from chapter eleven, which is one of my favorite chapters. This excerpt is about the beauty of reading aloud and what it does for both parent and child. I hope you enjoy it.
Lost intimacy . . . Thinking about it later, as our insomnia kicks in, we see that that ritual of reading every evening at the end of the bed when they are little–set time, set gestures–was like a prayer. A sudden truce after the battle of the day, a reunion lifted out of the ordinary. We savored the brief moment of silence before the storytelling began, then our voice, sounding like itself again, the liturgy of chapters . . . Yes, reading a story every evening fulfilled the most beautiful, least selfish, and least speculative function of prayer: that of having sins forgiven. We didn’t confess, we weren’t looking for a piece of eternity, but it was a moment of communion between us, of textual absolution, a return to the only paradise that matters intimacy. Without realizing it, we were discovering one of the crucial functions of storytelling, and more broadly speaking, of art in general, which is to offer a respite from human struggle.
Love wore a new skin.
And it was free.