Daily Archives: November 22, 2006

Reading Aloud Coraline

Dear Coraline,

It has been such a pleasure having you back in my classroom. Our first time together was so much fun that I couldn’t wait to have you again. However, I had to be sure that I had a class that was ready for you. There couldn’t be too many who knew you already or any likely to get nightmares from you. Fortunately, this year’s class seemed ready. I have one child working her way through V.C. Andrews, of all things (big sister is reading them so she is too with her parents’ okay) and so you seem pretty darned tame in comparison. As for the rest (none of whom knew you), when I told them I was going to read them a creepy story they were game, quite eager, in fact.

But then, a few days in (while you were still mostly in your own flat), one boy admitted that creepy stories sometimes scared him and he’d had a weird dream about you. But he still wanted to listen to you so I had him sit near me as I read and kept an eye on him wondering if I should encourage him to sit this one out. At first the other kids sweetly checked in on him too at scary moments, but soon it was clear to all of us that he was enjoying the book completely and we had no need to worry.

Still I am maintaining a few precautionary measures. For example, my apologies to your wonderful illustrator, Dave McKean, but I haven’t been showing them the illustrations. I just couldn’t risk it. I think some of my listeners (such as the boy I already mentioned) are on the very edge of scaredness. Those illustrations, to my mind, might just take them over it. I also am very careful to end my daily readings at parts that aren’t likely to linger into their dreams. I like to stop with cliffhangers and you are full of them. Makes my class agog and eager to listen to you at our next session!

I did begin by showing Dario and Gabriela’s amazingly cool book-trailer. It wasn’t too scary, just intriguing. I plan to show it again after you are gone (which should be soon as you’ve got the three souls and were heading for the mantelpiece when I last read to them).

Another little thing I did was when you got all three soul-marbles I pulled out a little bag of marbles I received from your publisher when you first came into existence. They are blue instead of gray, but the kids still think they are very cool. I now toss them in one hand as I read, the quiet clinks creating a satisfyingly ominous sound.

The kids enjoying speculating as to how the story will end. They seem confident that it will be a happy ending. It is a quest, a journey they tell me, and those have to end well. We have recently begun a look at Cinderella and fairy tales and so this idea of “happily ever after” is an intriguing one we’ve been talking about a lot of late. Are you a fairy tale? That will be an interesting question for them once you are gone.

So tell your dad, Neil Gaiman, that he did a great job with you! We teachers shouldn’t be afraid of you or your relatives, The Wolves in the Walls or The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. We’ve had great visits from them too. I do wonder about your big sister, Mirrormask though. My friend suggested she come for a visit, but I’m not yet sure if she is too old for my class or not. What do you think?

So thanks for stopping by! You are welcome anytime.





Filed under Children's Literature, Neil Gaiman, Reading, Reading Aloud, Teaching