I used to hate read-alouds. My neck would get tense, my throat would feel stiff and sore and my voice would hurt. (And if you say a voice cannot hurt, I assure you, it can.)
I longingly browsed curricula that praised reading aloud, that were based on moms reading for endless hours each day to their children in blissful community... Reading in blanket forts, outdoors over a picnic lunch, by the fire on quiet winter evenings. I wanted to be one of those moms. I tried. But even bedtime stories longer than a short picture book left me exhausted and in a bizarre sort of pain. Not pain, really. More … A desperate fatigue that felt like my throat was being crushed from the inside.
I don't remember a time when this wasn't the case. Even before having children, reading aloud was uncomfortable. But what newlywed or single lady needs to read aloud? After my son was born, however…. Bedtime stories left me out of breath and I quickly learned to summarize longer stories to save my sore voice. And once the children were school aged, well, I gave up on one homeschool curriculum because it had far, far too many read-alouds.
In fact, in seven years of homeschooling we'd made it through only two read-aloud books (Red Sails of Capri, which was NOT worth the effort, and Anne of Green Gables, which was). Not that the children didn't read on their own. They did and do, all the time. Even now their favorite show is in Japanese with subtitles, so they even have to read their TV!
And then last spring I discovered I had Hashimoto's thyroiditis
which is an autoimmune thyroid disease. I revved up treatment, and I think more importantly, slowed the attack on my thyroid by eliminating gluten and dairy. At the start of last school year we added a new curriculum for literature/language arts, Brave Writer, with one novel to read (aloud!) per month. Since the start of the school year we've read Love That Dog, Wonder (which took waaaay too long and was not fun to read aloud, but not because of my voice—because of the writing and story and absurd pet names. Seriously. Auggie-Doggie?), Flora and Ulysses, and we started Mysterious Benedict Society. More than double our previous reading history in just a few months.
I realized, rather tardily, that I no longer had any trouble reading for extended periods. I could go freaking forever, baby! I loved it! I loved doing the voices, getting into the world. Every day I read a few chapters of the novel, I read our science, I read Bible (those whiny Israelites!), I read history… And never did I feel the vocal exhaustion that just a few pages (paragraphs?) brought before. Isn't it odd, funny, incredible how something so life-altering can happen, and you don't even notice it? At least not for a good long while. Or…
Until you lose it. With an early spring of exceptional stress, I've noticed my thyroid symptoms worsening (stress is a major trigger for autoimmune diseases). Add in some unexpected gluten and too much sunlight (redheads are naturally photosensitive, and with autoimmune…). I’ve had some skin issues (like stress hives! Yay!), tiredness, and yes, that old reading fatigue. But now that I know, I can take the steps necessary, like check dosages and make relaxation more of a priority (ok, a priority in general). I think after a week or two of rest, I'll be eager to jump back into our book. Mysterious Benedict Society, we’ve missed you!