Friday, March 12, 2010

The problem with reading two books at once

As mentioned in a previous post (The writer, reading/listening), almost since our kids were old enough to understand one sentence following another, we've listened to books on tape during family car trips.

At first, we reserved them only for long journeys—I often remember past trips by the stories we heard along the way (our drive to Canada and back took as long as Fellowship of the Rings; now, when I think of traveling Montreal, I also sometimes think of Frodo traveling to Rivendell). But then we found it was nice to have a story to look forward to whenever we got into the car, even when we were just going to the grocery store.

We were able to keep the narrative going somehow, perhaps because it was such a defined space and we were a truly captive audience. The seatbelts click and the story starts again. Only occasionally did we need to back up a bit to catch up.

We've also always read to our kids aloud at night, from toddler to almost-teenage. This has never been a conflict before, listening to one story in the car, another at night. Until recently, when E-girl and I listened to City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau and read When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Both are mysteries written for children, presenting puzzles for the reader to figure out.

One night, about a week into both narratives, E-girl said, "I keep getting them confused." It was hard to remember sometimes which story had the man under the mailbox, which had the confused grandma. So we stopped listening to Ember until we finished the other book. Perhaps what made it even more difficult is that When You Reach Me keeps referencing A Wrinkle in Time, so we were having to keep three books separate in our minds, reminding ourselves that Linah and Doone couldn't time travel.

Today I went to the library and checked out two books on CD: Treasure Island and The People of Sparks (the sequel to Ember). I also checked out The People of Sparks on paper; we have a paper copy of Treasure Island already. I guess this is the way it will have to be for awhile, as long as we're listening to suspenseful or exciting books. The only problem for me, now, is that I will be competing with professional voice/actors when I read aloud at night.

1 comment:

Mohamed Mughal said...

Ah, the challenges of the literary three-way. But there's also that intrinsic excitement, and the ability to indulge moods by reaching for what pleases at that moment. I'm bouncing between "A Brief History of Time" and "Life of Pi" right now. But then I've always liked three-ways.