I was reminded of this as the Seattle Festival Orchestra performed melodies by Mozart, Sarasate, and Rimsky-Korsakov, which washed over the audience like transportation devices.
Soloists performed technically demanding pieces, leading audience members to envision forest scenes where gypsies danced around blazing fires. They played haunting melodies which sent us, voyeurs, to witness as Sultana Scheherazade saved her life by weaving tales of intrigue and adventure for the Sultan.
When I wasn't being transported by the proficiency of the musicians, I was wishing that I could do that; wishing I had the skill to unleash such magic from an instrument.
Then I realized I do. We all do. We just play a different instrument. We play books.
Our read aloud time is a daily concert of words that entertain and inspire our audiences. When Abilene finds Edward (The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane); when the photos fall out of Fox's pocket (Fox in Love); when Maddie and Peggy find out that Wanda Petronski moved because of their cruelty (The Hundred Dresses); our students experience the delight, surprise, and grief of each moment. And when they aren't being transported, we are instilling that deep desire to be able to do that too. The ability to play words in such a way that one can only sit and wonder that they came from such a simple looking instrument.
We must not let the time crunches and schedule demands rob our students of read aloud time. We are the concertmasters, and when we let our voices wash over our audience, carrying them to places unknown, it is the surest way to inspire them to pick up our instrument of choice.