Monday, May 22, 2017

turns reading aloud

The day came.

After waiting two weeks for the right moment, it was my turn to watch the boy after school got out. The book lay on the seat beside him in the pickup. It was raining out. I watched as he first picked up the book and thumbed through its pages. He read silently to himself.
We came into agreement.
He would read one sentence aloud and I would read the next. And so on, taking turns, sharing the story. Listening to the sound and shape of the words and imagining the characters we were fond of.

 A while ago, my wife recalled, back when we were dating, I had found a vinyl record at Link Library at Concordia University in Seward. I was attracted to the rich grandfatherly voice of Carl Sandburg as he read his Rootabagga Stories. The stories were transferred to a cassette tape of mine. And last year my great-nephew enjoyed the audio stories on tape at his house. That day he and I were drawing doodles on paper at their dining room table. Hatrack the Horse was telling the night policeman in the Village of Cream Puffs about the Three Wild Babylonian Baboons.
"Soon the baboons, all hairy all over, bangs down their foreheads, came sneaking through the door. Just as they were sneaking through the door they took off their hats to show they were getting ready to sneak through the house........The last he saw of them they were walking away in the rain eating bread and butter. And they took off their hats so the rain ran down and slid on the bangs of their foreheads." Carl Sandburg

Word had come to me that my great-nephew had been talking to his GG about wanting to HEAR that baboon story again. His grandmother mentioned it to her sister (my wife) and I heard of his renewed interest. That was when I ordered the book through our local Carrollton library.

The second grader was surprised that I had to WAIT a whole week for the book to arrive. He asked me where CARTHAGE was. The book was on-loan from the Carthage Public Library. It was a city near the bottom on our state of Missouri, I replied.

What astonished me was that there were OTHER tales in the book that were not on the vinyl record. More stories with new titles to explore.

When we got home to the yellow house with dark green shutters, he and I read one of these. One we had not heard of before. "Many, Many Weddings in One Corner House." "... bug games bugs-up, bugs-down, run-bugs-run, or beans-bugs-beans."

I was so glad this opportunity was fulfilled. WE  DID IT and the idea worked.

The boy told me he scored high on the reading chart in his class. Great. Here are two audio files I found on Youtube. Both stories are on my cassette tape.

Four minutes. Carl Sandburg reads aloud. (courtesy of Youtube,, accessed May 26, 2017)

Seven minutes. A second story from that audio file.
(courtesy of, accessed May 26, 2017)

Rootabagga Stories

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  1. Thank you for newsy news, Karl,

    I took one element from it and remembered a touch of my history, personally. When I worked as a children’s librarian in Kansas City at the Southeast High School building, I told stories to elementary students who came to the library from area schools. One of my favorites is “The Huckaback Family” and I designed stick puppets to portray the main characters! I really enjoy the use of repetitive sounds in the story; if you've read it, you may remember that, to paraphrase: “once Pony Pony watched her Papa Papa when he worked in a watch factory in Elgin IL watching the workers making watches in the watch factory.” (Something like that anyway).

    Patt Behler

  2. Sandburg is a delight to read, laugh over, and listen to someone else read the words. Yes.