Reading a story aloud together is an opportunity to connect – with the ideas in the story and with each other. And reading aloud is for all ages, young and old. Children who are read stories are better learners and develop stronger communication skills (e.g. listening, speaking, writing, reading). Research also shows that by having contact with children's stories – which are often full of wonder, imagination, and hope – adults retain a more positive, happier outlook on life.
Dream is an ideal story for reading aloud to young children, teens, university-aged students, and adults. It's a story a parent or grandparent can read cuddled up in a chair with a child, a teacher or principal can read to a class or as part of a school event, or a reading group can share. It's a rich, multilayered story you can explore and discuss together.
Before reading a story aloud to someone else, make sure you read it aloud to yourself a few times to become familiar and comfortable with it. Try reading in front of a mirror to see how you should stand, hold the book, and which gestures and facial expressions you might want to introduce.
When you read aloud, be dramatic. You need a strong start to capture attention. Then, as you go through the story, vary the volume, tone, and pace of your voice. Make the reading as interesting, heartfelt, and dramatic as possible. Above all – enjoy yourself! There's no "right way" or "wrong way" to do a reading. Each person brings their own style to a reading – and that's what makes it interesting. Also keep in mind that simply being read to is a treat your audience will enjoy. You don't have to be perfect.
If you're reading to a group, make copies of the book available for people to look at while you're reading. The beautiful artwork in Dream draws listeners into the story. The Dream CD also enables you to display the illustrations on a computer or large screen.
Before you start reading Dream, introduce the book. Dream is a story about hopes and dreams across a lifetime, from childhood to older adulthood. It's a story about life – in fact, the life and dreams of each and every person in your audience. Everyone has a dream, and each person will take away something different from the story in Dream. The ultimate message of the book is that everyone needs a dream – dreams give us direction and hope – and you're never too young or too old to dream. The book challenges young people and adults not just to dream, but to pursue those dreams to make the world a better place.
Ask the group to start thinking about what their hopes and dreams are – for themselves, their family, the world. Have them think about answers to these questions:
What do you want your life to be like?
What do you want to be?
What do you want to do?
What do you want to learn?
What do you want for your family?
How can you make the world a better place?
You can read Dream with one or two voices. A single, consistent voice should read the actual story text. You can also have a second voice serve as the "echoes across time" by reading the inspirational quotations on each page. After the first voice reads the story text on a page (ending with a soft echo of the refrain "Dream a dream with me"), the second voice can read the quotation. Important: Explain to your audience before you start reading what the two voices are (i.e. the story text followed by the quotation from that page).
Another way to handle the second voice – and encourage group participation – is to preassign different individuals in the group to each read one of the quotations aloud at the appropriate point in the story.
Start telling the story with the unwritten part that's illustrated on the title page: "Dream begins at the end of the rainbow with the Dream Chest, a magical portal between 'what is' and 'what can be.' A traveler wandering the desert finds the Dream Chest and opens it. Out from the chest comes a wise old star who asks, 'What's your dream?'"
Then begin reading the story text on the yellow spread on pages 4-5. "I started out just like you..."
Once you finish the story, it's nice for people in the group to share their personal hopes and dreams. Mention that each illustrator has hidden a star in their illustration so that readers of all ages can hunt for and make a wish with each star they find. You can also explore the illustrations in detail using the notes at the end of the book.
Following on the last page in the story, encourage people in the group to "be a dreamer." It's the dreamers in this world who have the courage and creativity to try new things, overcome obstacles, and make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others.
You may want to end your reading by doing an activity together, like making origami Dream Stars. People can take their star home with them as a keepsake to remind them of the power of dreams.