The joys (and challenges) when couples read together
One of the marital spats that sometimes surfaces when we are reading aloud together is the “Reading the End” discussion. I (Beth) like the big picture. Thus, often I like to page through a book to get an overview of where we’re going. Alan calls this “ruining the end,” and he doesn’t like it. I know he doesn’t like it because he says, “Hey, don’t read ahead” and makes a disapproving face, which I know means that he is upset.
Feelings and facial expressions like these are essential parts of human social interaction that most learn through socialization. But those with learning differences on the Autism spectrum come to the world of relationships with a different set of social filters, and these interactions do not come naturally. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon, creatively illustrates these dynamics through the voice of Christopher, who knows every prime number up to 7,057 and informs us that he is 15 years, 3 months, and 2 days old when the book opens. As Christopher embarks on his odyssey to solve the mystery surrounding the death of a neighborhood dog, we readers accompany him, watching through his unique social and intellectual lenses. The book is complete with diagrams, mathematical explanations, and lists.
Now I will tell you the reasons we like the book:
- As a teacher of students with Autism, it triggers my imagination on how they might see the world.
- I couldn’t read ahead because the book is not linear in the traditional way.
- The chapters are numbered with prime numbers.
- It is empathetic and touching.
Alan ’02 and Beth ’03 Claassen Thrush both graduated with degrees in sociology. Alan received a Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary, and Beth has a Master of Arts in Special Education. They are currently serving with Mennonite Central Committee in Managua, Nicaragua, where they enjoy reading in any place with air-conditioning. You could also find them reading aloud in the hammock chair on their patio, while doing household chores, or on the Managua city buses while carefully avoiding the holes in the floor.