Reading Tolkien aloud...
For the past week or so, I have been reading "The Hobbit" to my 9-year old. It's something I've wanted to do for a while but until now he hasn't really had the patience for it. I made an attempt last year but didn't even get through the first chapter. I chalked it up to his restlessness at that time in the evening before bed.
Well, as of now I'm about seven or eight chapters into it, and I have to say it has been somewhat of a chore. Reading it quietly to oneself is much different experience than not only reading it aloud but trying to make it entertaining. It's hard enough to keep track of all the different voices to use, but to make matters worse Tolkien's style is very long-winded. You can imagine the state of my throat after reading "Riddles in the Dark", doing my best Andy Serkis-style Gollum voice.
I actually found myself getting out of breath as I finished each sentence. Again, reading through in your mind is one thing, reciting those long winding passages takes some real effort.
Interestingly enough, Tolkien wrote "The Hobbit" specifically in a style of a narrator, often interjecting commentary and making the occasional aside to the reader here and there within the story. And he was known to have read the book to his children many times over. My hat's off to the old Don. But perhaps being a professor of languages he was considerably more comfortable with this especially verbose - and often repetitive - material.
My son, Ryan, is certainly interested. Unfortunately, he has seen the Rankin-Bass animated version which I'm not terribly fond of. But it was long ago enough where he can use his own imagination as he listens. And Alan Lee's illustrations are beautifully presented in my edition.
As we continue to plod along at a chapter per night (most nights, anyway) before I start I always have him review with me the names of all thirteen dwarves. Balin and Dwalin, Oin and Gloin, Bifur Bofur and Bombur, Fili and Kili, Dori Nori and Ori and Thorin. He's getting better and it's became a great source of pride to him to be able to name them unaided. He's almost there.
Also, after every chapter, we track the journey of Bilbo, Thorin & Co. on a map drawn by John Howe specifically for "The Maps of Middle Earth". As of this point, the fourteen adventures have just taken leave of Gandalf (who has pressing business with the White Council on the topic of the Necromancer at Dol Goldur - who ultimately turns out to be Sauron). They're about to enter the dark and dangerous Mirkwood.
Here there be spiders!