Early in 2017, I was delighted to get to read The Hobbit to my five-year-old daughter. She loved the book, just as I did when my father read it to me, and sharing it with her was wonderful. She begged me to read her The Lord of the Rings immediately after that, but she just wasn't ready. We read The Hobbit together again not too much later, and then we went on to other things.

Time passed, and summer 2018 rolled around, and, well... here's the story, as reported periodically on Facebook over several months.

July 29, 2018: 9:25pm:
We just finished reading The Hobbit with Ms7 for the third time, and she loved it as much as ever. When I came in a few minutes after she and Kim had finished reading, I found the two of them lying side by side on her bed poring over the Wilderland map together. (Such vivid echoes of my own love of that map at her age!) It was adorable.

And then, just as dear to my heart, she's spent the rest of bedtime quietly singing "Far over the Misty Mountains cold" to herself, and then insisting that we sing the whole thing together during our usual bedtime song time. (Ever since I was a kid, I've sung that to the tune of Greensleeves. It works really well, at least to us.) I love how deeply the magic of this story touches her.
10:02 p.m.: Also, she's once again begging to read The Lord of the Rings next. And I'm weakening. (This is pretty much exactly the age I was when I first read it myself.)
July 30, 2018: 2:39 p.m.:
Well, I finally started it. Over lunch, I read Ms7 "A Long-Expected Party". We'll see if her interest holds up through the rest of The Lord of the Rings, but she seemed eager today. :)
4:23 p.m.: I'm still not sure whether she'll be patient enough to sit through all of "The Shadow of the Past" before the actual "adventure" starts, so this may or may not wind up being the time when we truly take off with the book. (Also, we're not planning on this being a bedtime book, since I can't in good conscience trap Kim in that for weeks or months on end. So we'll see how the reading schedule winds up going.)
4:25 p.m.: [A friend:] Does Kim usually do the bedtime book? Or is it that she isn't as great a fan as you are?
4:34 p.m.: Kim and I take turns reading at bedtime (and then the other one sings some songs and turns out the lights), so when we read something long we're committing to both of us reading it regularly for a long time. Kim... doesn't dislike LotR. She was perfectly willing to read it as a precondition for marriage. :) (She'd tried two or three times previously, but got fed up with the hobbits doing obviously foolish things early on and quit reading in frustration around Old Man Willow or the barrow downs or maybe as far as the Prancing Pony.) But I think she'd rather get to read something with Phoebe other than Tolkien at some point in the next few months.
July 31, 2018: 8:19pm:
Somewhat to my surprise, Ms7 made it through all of "The Shadow of the Past" with her enthusiasm for The Lord of the Rings intact! Despite all of the talking and talking and talking, I think finding out more about Gollum kept her very interested, and it probably helped that I know the book well enough to read that chapter with lots of drama and emotion.

And then, as we talked to Kim afterward, Ms7 was even correcting her on random details: Kim said something about "in the fifty years since Bilbo's adventure", and Ms7 immediately rolled her eyes and interrupted with "You mean sixty years, mom?" (I guess she comes by that honestly...)
Aug 1, 2018: 12:33 p.m.:
Unexpected challenge of reading The Lord of the Rings aloud to my daughter: my style of reading The Hobbit has made her expect that when there are songs in the book, I'll sing them (rather than reading them as poetry). But I don't have any tunes in my head for the LotR songs: I'm having to invent them all on the fly. (There was a bit of that in The Hobbit, but by our third time through I had at least an idea of how I'd sing everything.) Sometimes it turns out better than others. :)
10:18 p.m.: [A friend:] Check out "The Road Goes Ever On" by Donald Swann. Tolkien wrote the words, approved Swann's music, and even provided the plainchant for "Namarie." And some of the songs in the movies ("Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go") are rollicking enough for kids. Good luck!
10:24 p.m.: I've never managed to get my own copy of "The Road Goes Ever On", though I remember looking through one from the library once. I still have vague memories of Swann's tune for "Ah Elbereth! Gilthoniel!", which was radically different than my own imagined version (but my version isn't great, either), but I should really look back at the book one of these days. :)
10:39 p.m.: (One thing that I should do, sooner rather than later, is listen again to Tolkien's own recordings of some of the songs and poems. At least it would give me a starting place for some of them!)
Aug 1, 2018: 8:06pm:
[Kim:] My entertainment for the evening is watching Steuard try to not read his favorite book :-)

S: Let’s read something other than Lord of the Rings tonight since we’ve read nothing but Tolkien for weeks.
P: No, we have to keep reading it!
S: We should mix things up a bit.
P: Why?
S: ...
P: puppy dog eyes
S: Okay, we last stopped just a few pages from the end of the chapter, so we’ll read to there.
(4 pages later)
S: There. We finished the chapter, so that’s a good place to stop.
P: No, keep going!
S: fails another saving throw A Short Cut to Mushrooms...
8:28 p.m.: [A friend:] Not sure why he even bothers rolling that save.
8:56 p.m.: [Kim:] Watching him try to come up with an answer to “Why can’t we just read nothing but Tolkien?” was hysterical.
9:15 p.m.: There are other great authors out there to explore! To say nothing of non-fiction. And we haven't done enough reading this summer that's gotten her actively doing the reading (which she mostly isn't doing with Tolkien, though often she is eager to follow along with where I am on the page). And (very important point) Kim and I have usually taken turns reading at bedtime from night to night, and I feel pretty guilty condemning her to months in a row of Tolkien reading, if it turns out to go that way.

But yeah: it's not an easy save to begin with, and I think I have disadvantage on the roll. :P
8:33 p.m.: Just to continue this story, Kim just wound up getting talked into reading a chapter and a half during bedtime tonight. :)
Aug. 3, 2018: 9:16pm:
In an unexpected echo of my own misunderstanding throughout my first reading of The Lord of the Rings (at her same age), Ms7 has now firmly requested that I refer to Merry Brandybuck as "she". (Evidently she feels that there aren't enough girls in this story. And y'know, it works!)
9:53 p.m.: [My occasional LotR class co-professor:] Merry and Eowyn, the ultimate girl-power team against the patriarchy of the Witch King. Yep. I like that version better!
10:13 p.m.: Seriously, I was completely confused in my first reading of the book by the footnote that tried to explain why Merry helping to kill the Witch-King didn't violate the prophecy, because Merry was technically not a Man but a Hobbit. It seemed entirely unnecessary: Eowyn was a woman, Merry was a woman, they both obviously counted as "not by the hand of man" in the same way, so why did Merry need a footnote? (I'm pretty amazed that I still remember that experience so clearly, 35 years later.)
Photo of large Middle-earth map taped 
			       to the wall: taped together from 3x3 
			       letter-sized sheets.
Aug. 4, 2018: 4:14 p.m.:
We need to paint our walls. But in the meantime, our dining room is a lovely place for a big visual aid to go along with Ms7's current reading project.
Aug. 4, 2018: 7:45 p.m.:
Unanticipated consequence of the Middle-earth map that I put on the dining room wall: Ms7 paid no attention to her dinner tonight, and instead talked repeatedly about Mirkwood and the Old Forest and all the rest.
7:46 p.m.: Also, I had a really tough time getting her to come to dinner in the first place, because she was (I still can't quite believe this) in her room rereading the finale of the Riddle Game in The Hobbit and refused to come to the table. (And I could only bring myself to push so hard.)
9:52 p.m.: Oof. Update: It wasn't the map being there that was making Ms7 constantly ask questions and ignore her dinner, it was just her mood for the evening. Her dinner started so late and was taking so long that we decided to start bedtime reading while she finished eating.

And oh. my. word. I read all of "In the House of Tom Bombadil" tonight, and I honestly don't know that I ever managed to read more than three sentences in a row without Ms7 interrupting. Sometimes it was a question about the story ("How could Tom Bombadil be that old?" "How old is Gandalf?"). Sometimes it was a question about vocabulary in the story ("Wait, why do you say a 'flock' of sheep? That's for birds!"). Sometimes it was a fun imagined variant on the story (for example, a detailed alternate version of Old Man Willow, where Merry and Pippin were trapped inside and then discovered a staircase through the middle up to a treehouse). Sometimes it was a random question about, say, the typography on the cover of some totally different book on the dining room table.

The chapter is about 13 pages long, and it took me over an hour to read the whole thing. And she still didn't really finish her dinner. (If these conversations with her weren't so fun, I think it would have been even harder to put up with. :) )
Aug. 8, 2018: 8:22 p.m.:
OMG, I'm listening to Kim reading to Ms7 tonight, and Frodo's about to be stabbed on Weathertop!
9:10 p.m.: [Kim:] Stabbing Frodo is my reward for reading two friggin’ pages of poem followed by a page of explanatory follow-up.
Aug. 12, 2018: 10:30 p.m.:
Somehow, between other activities today Ms7 convinced Kim and me to read her Many Meetings, The Council of Elrond, AND The Ring Goes South.
10:45 p.m.: Correction: Kim points out that we read half of Many Meetings yesterday, to give some calming closure after reading Flight to the Ford.‬
Aug. 12, 2018: 9:55 p.m.:
We're now halfway through "A Journey in the Dark" with Ms7. I'm intensively planning for the likely emotional hit of Balin's tomb, and even more for The Bridge of Khazad-dûm.
Aug. 13, 2018: 8:57 p.m.:
After all my worries, Gandalf's fall seems not to have hit Ms7 too terribly hard. Not yet, at least: we've explicitly confirmed to her that yes, he dies, but she keeps imagining goofy, unrealistic ways he could get out of it. (None of this is helping her fall asleep, mind you.)
8:58 p.m.: She was definitely gripped all throughout the battle and chase and bridge in Moria, though: I think she really liked the chapter.
8:59 p.m.: [A friend:] Didn't Tolkien already imagine a goofy, unrealistic way for him to get out of it?
9:09 p.m.: Dying and then being sent back by God to finish his job? Yeah, I guess that qualifies as goofy and unrealistic. :) (But, I'd claim, still not as goofy as "but what if he was playing Minecraft creative mode and he could fly", which was at least akin to the sorts of ideas she suggested earlier.)
9:12 p.m.: [Kim:] “He just needed to find the invisible ROBLOX path back up” was her favorite silly option with me :)
9:14 p.m.: [Same friend:] All of these along with the real outcome for Gandalf seem equally plausible to me.
9:07 p.m.: Also: by popular request, I asked her to describe the Balrog in her own words. Evidently the details didn't fully sink in: before it caught fire, she imagined it as an especially big person with a dark cloak covering it up. No mention of wings, even when I asked specifically if she imagined "any claws or horns or wings or anything". But after I repeated the sequence of shadow and/or wing phrases from the book, culminating in "and its wings were spread from wall to wall", she said "I guess it has wings, then." Then I explained how other people still imagine all those phrases without it having "flesh and blood" wings (or "bone and leather" wings, or whatever): the usual "shadow shaped like wings" idea. And she thought that sounded plausible, too. So: no real data!
9:09 p.m.: [Kim:] And the pink fuzzy slippers?
9:09 p.m.: [A friend:] Greetings, fellow non-visual thinker!
9:14 p.m.: Me too, me too! It usually takes a distinct effort for me to really see a scene from a story in my mind's eye, even though I've often followed up on that with the completely confident claim that I would know my favorite characters at a glance if I happened to meet them on the road. (I feel like I know them well enough to recognize them, even if I can't really see them in my head.) Similarly, it's rare for me to vividly hear a piece of music in my memory (and awfully special when I do).
12:09 p.m.: [A friend:] She did better than me. I still remember curling up under the couch and crying. I would've been 7 or 8.
8:05 a.m.: [A friend:] "…we've explicitly confirmed to her that yes, he dies, but she keeps imagining goofy, unrealistic ways he could get out of it." So she's absolutely right about what happens, then!
Aug. 14, 2018: 8:33 p.m.:
Ha! Ms7 was listening to Kim reading about the Fellowship walking blindfolded through Lothlorien, and out of nowhere Ms7 said, "It would be funny if Gandalf was still alive: he is still going to die when he hits the bottom, but he's still falling, still falllllling."
9:59 p.m.: [Kim:] Then, she took off her socks, stood on the couch, and dropped them on the floor “Falling!” :)
Aug. 18, 2018: 8:55 p.m.:
I'm surprisingly happy with the melody I came up with when I sang Boromir's funeral song to Ms7 tonight. (Mind you, now she really, really wants to know if anyone else is going to die along the way.)
Aug. 25, 2018: 8:13 a.m.:
Ms7, puzzled and excited: "What? Did Gandalf not die???"
8:16 p.m.: She very much liked the Ents, along the way. And she's been both frustrated and intrigued by the parallel storylines, asking again and again "Where are the others now? Where are they now?"
8:58 p.m.: A general observation: chapters with a great deal of travel or talking tend to leave her moderately impatient or bored (though she still insists strongly that we keep reading). Chapters with scary, intense moments get her much more interested. So she liked "The Uruk-hai" best of all the chapters in The Two Towers so far, and was pretty bored by "The Riders of Rohan" that consisted mostly of Aragorn & co. running incessantly across Rohan and then a long conversation with Éomer. (Knowing this, I've tried to play up the exciting or tense bits in the conversations in the less fast-paced chapters.)
Sep. 2, 2018: 8:28 p.m.:
Pippin has looked into the palantír of Orthanc, and Gandalf has now told him the lore of the seven stones, and that Sauron must have recovered one of his own. Ms7 has now come up with a whole scenario where one of the Nazgûl accidentally drops Sauron's palantír near Frodo and Sam, and they can all communicate together.
Sep. 8, 2018: 8:48 p.m.:
For the past few nights, we've been reading to Ms7 about Frodo and Sam traveling along the border of Mordor. Last night, she and I had a conversation about Gollum and how he's not entirely a "good guy" or a "bad guy". We'd just met Faramir, and (with Boromir in my mind) I asked her if she could think of any other characters who weren't entirely good or entirely bad.

I meant it as a sort of "reading analysis" question, to get a sense of how deeply she was processing the story and how well she could keep track of it all. But boy, I didn't expect her response: "I think that everybody in the story is not all good or all bad. It's like Gandalf said: he is dangerous, and Gimli is dangerous, and everyone is dangerous, but they're good, too." That was... deeper than I was expecting.
8:49 p.m.: [Also, vaguely related school aside: It sounds like on Ms7's first or second day of 2nd grade early this past week, she finished a math test early and doodled an Ent on the side, with a little speech bubble saying "Hoom hum".]
8:58 p.m.: Oh, and the other school story that completely melted my heart. She told me that on Friday she asked her teacher for help spelling "Rings" correctly... because everyone in the class was supposed to write down their favorite book. <3
8:56 p.m.: Meanwhile, I had fun with tonight's reading, where I got to read the bit where Sam gets overly enthusiastic and spills the beans about the Ring to Faramir, and Frodo's aghast "Sam!!", and Faramir seeming very threatening for a moment. I did my best to play up the danger in that moment (with Faramir's tone of voice and the hobbits' fear), and it worked really well: Ms7 was wide eyed with her fingers in her ears (her usual reaction when she's really worried). When I paused just before Faramir reassured the hobbits, Ms7 interrupted: "Now they need a big stone circle that they can run around, and [Ms7 miming] Frodo will put on the ring ["poof!"] and disappear!" Evidently she remembers Frodo's confrontation with Boromir pretty vividly. :)
Sep. 11, 2018: 7:43 p.m.:
Ms7 just paused tonight's reading for a bathroom break. Frodo just cut his way through Shelob's final web, and is running in heedless excitement toward the pass of Cirith Ungol. Sam is following, but nervous. And we've just read that Shelob has many exits from her lair.

As Kim points out, this may not be ideal bedtime reading. But wow, am I having fun.
Sep. 12, 2018: 10:27 p.m.:
I read The Choices Of Master Samwise to Ms7 tonight. She took the whole thing quite well; I don't think she ever really believed Frodo was dead. (Gandalf set a precedent, I guess.) But I had tears in my eyes (or more) the whole time I was reading Sam reacting to Frodo's death.‬
Sep. 13, 7:26 a.m.: ‪I will say, it gave a real sense of authenticity to Sam's dialogue in that section!‬

‪I sometimes feel like kids don't react as intensely to deeply emotional moments in stories as grownups do. Or maybe we just have our strong reactions to different things.‬
Sep. 14, 2018: 11:12 a.m.:
Conversation report from last night:

Kim, to Ms7: Should we go to the Apple Farm this weekend?
Ms7, excited: Elbereth Gilthoniel!

(I'm absolutely delighted by this.)
11:45 a.m.: [Kim:] I'm assured that meant "yes" :)
Sep. 20, 2018: 7:07 a.m.:
From last night:

Me, reading Gandalf: "if words spoken of old be true, not by the hand of man shall he fall."
Ms7, interrupting: You know what that might mean? Maybe... maybe a 'H...' maybe a hobbit!
Me: Could be, could be...
Ms7: Or maybe She will do it! [curious look from me]She could come down, Shelob! And say "I want a little snack" and stab! in the neck! Crunch crunch crunch.

I'm really, really looking forward to that moment. (We'll read it this weekend!)
9:38 a.m.: [A friend:] Can't wait for her to get to Eowyn.
9:39 a.m.: I think that I've been looking forward to reading that scene to my (future) kid for 20 years. 25, maybe.
11:14 a.m.: [A friend:] You must report her reaction! It's almost like reading the book for the first time again!
12:54 p.m.: It's been great for me, in very much that way. (Last night, she wasn't as over the top thrilled by "Horns, horns, horns! Rohan had come at last" as I'd hoped, but a little later she did spontaneously comment on how funny it had been when everything was so tense, and then the rooster suddenly said "cock-a-doodle-doo!")
5:50 p.m.: [A friend:] Crunch, crunch, crunch. [Crying laugh emoji] I like this kid!
Sep. 22, 2018: 10:46 p.m.:
We read The Battle of the Pelennor Fields to Ms7 tonight, and I think it went over very well (despite some logistical frustrations along the way).

The confrontation with the Witch King actually wound up being a bit disjointed, because from the very start of that scene Ms7 was constantly breaking in with questions: often quite relevant ones. She wanted a reminder of who Dernhelm was, and whether we knew anything about his background or where he was from. (Was he related to Elfhelm?) Why had he left Elfhelm's company to ride with the King instead? She wanted to talk about the Fell Beast that the Witch King rode on. And "what's a mace?"

And boy, when the Witch King made his taunt about "no living man may hinder me," Ms7 immediately jumped back into speculation about who was going to turn up to do the deed. "Wait, Gandalf! Gandalf's not a Man!" (She had no doubt that this was the moment that the Witch King was going to die, however it might turn out to happen.) When Éowyn laughed and declared herself, Ms7 was surprised and excited (and insisted on a bit of conversation ensuring that she's understood correctly), and when Merry decided (s)he had to help Éowyn Ms7 began exclaiming that both of them could "count" as "not a man". The Witch King's death itself seemed almost anticlimactic, expected as it was. (Though Ms7 later remonstrated Merry for telling Théoden that (s)he "had done nothing in his service": stabbing the Witch King to save Éowyn's life and open him to her killing blow wasn't nothing! And she talked about the scene a fair bit during bedtime, too: it clearly made an impression.)

But, oh! The opposite of anticlimactic was the look on Ms7's face when Éomer saw the foremost black ship suddenly display Aragorn's banner! As I read the description of the emblems there—the White Tree and the crown and the stars, wrought by Arwen daughter of Elrond—she went from confusion to dawning comprehension to such a delighted thrill! That scene was one heck of a payoff to the chapter, and clearly a high point for her (and for me). I have so very much loved sharing this with her.
[Oct. 14:] How did I only realize weeks later that we actually read the Pelennor Fields scene ON BILBO AND FRODO'S BIRTHDAY??
Sep. 29, 2018: 9:14 p.m.:
Funny moment: I talked with Ms7 at bedtime about Sam being tempted to claim the Ring at the edge of Mordor. She thought it was a funny idea ("Samwise the Strong!"), but understood that it just made people imagine being so strong ("Like Boromir!" she said) but that Sauron would see them right away and go get them. I reminded her that Aragorn's strategy was to act just like someone who had gotten the Ring and foolishly believed its promises.

So then Ms7 said, "What if Sauron's army killed Aragorn, and then Sauron came and looked through all his clothes to find the Ring and it wasn't there?" She paused, then smiled: "He'd have to look back here!" And she pointed around at her butt, grinning.

As I began to chuckle, she laughed on, "Yeah, he'd have to stick a camera up there! And then he'd say, 'No Ring here. Just all this poop!'"
7:31 a.m.: [Kim:] Your colonoscopy clearly made a lasting impression.
Oct. 5, 2018: 11:15 p.m.:
Ms7 was constantly asking questions and sharing ideas as Frodo and Sam approached Mount Doom while we read tonight: I remain thoroughly impressed with her insight and imagination (though it does really slow things down!). She was delighted and nervous when Gollum leapt down to attack them as they climbed the mountain ("I knew it! I knew it would be either Gollum or a Nazgûl!"), and as the climax approached she paced anxiously back and forth. It was really fun to share this with her, and I think the critical moment very much lived up to her expectations. (She wanted to keep talking and talking about it as we finished getting ready for bed, too.)

And it turns out that at the climactic scene, just after Frodo claimed the Ring for his own and vanished and Gollum leapt to attack, Kim managed to catch our reading on video. (Fortuitously located tonight right in front of the big map I printed, as it happens.) It got cut off a bit abruptly by accident, but it's a great glimpse of the moment to share. [But I'm not going to share kid videos fully in public, alas.]
12:19 a.m.: [My sister:] I have so loved following along with these updates and have been so eager for this very moment!!!! Thank you Kim!!!
12:30 a.m.: [A friend:] I love how she's bouncing around and interacting with the story. And on a side note, Steuard, if your local community theater ever does a production of The Hobbit, you should audition to be Gollum.
2:44 a.m.: [A friend:] As Charlotte wrote, its terrific to share in one of your story times after reading your posts for some time.
Oct. 13, 2018: 8:40 p.m.:
We're so very near the end: I read Ms7 most of the chapter "Many Partings" this morning, and we read "Homeward Bound" tonight after dinner, and then stopped because it was time to get ready for bed.

But right now, Ms7 is not getting ready for bed. She's opened the book up again and is now reading "The Scouring of the Shire" to herself, all on her own. It really is bedtime, but she's four pages in and I can't bear to stop her. <3
9:42 p.m.: [A friend:] Eh, it's not a school night. Let her read. :)
10:04 p.m.: Finally tucked into bed at 10:00! She read nearly 10 pages all by herself before we insisted that it was time for toothbrushing and pajamas. (And these aren't small pages, nor are they the usual reading level of the books she brings home from school.)
1:07 a.m.: [My sister:] I would not be mad if you took a video of the final read.
Oct. 16, 2018: 10:20 p.m.:
"Well, I'm back."

After starting at the very end of July, we finally finished reading The Lord of the Rings with Ms7 tonight. We've read the book pretty close to every night since then (certainly at least 5 times a week or so on average), sometimes for just a few minutes and sometimes at great length. There have been evenings of rapt attention and evenings peppered with a thousand questions and evenings of fiddling with other things while listening to the story in the background, and more than a few baths with me reading on the side. No matter what the mood, though, there weren't many days when she didn't ask for us to keep reading when we stopped for the night: "just a little more??"

Reading "The Grey Havens" tonight was a mixture of several of those moods. Ms7 started off sipping homemade hot chocolate (you're welcome, dear family :) ) and quite focused on Sam's efforts to clean up the Shire after all the nasty things that had happened there. When Sam started planting trees all around the Shire, Ms7 exclaimed "He should plant one right where the party tree used to be!", and was very satisfied when Sam eventually did exactly that (and she was thrilled when it sprouted and she realized it was "like the trees Galadriel had!"). When the hobbits cleaned up all around Bag End, she pointed out that a high priority ought to be cleaning up the dead wizard out front ("Or, no! They could keep him there, and use him as a rug!") And she was excited to hear about Sam getting married and about his daughter Elanor.

Sadly, I accidentally spoiled the mood a little by asking Kim to take a video of the final couple of pages. Ms7 took that as an invitation to goof around for the camera, and then became fascinated by the craft project that Kim had been setting up. By the time she settled down (while all the while insisting on finishing the story), we'd given up on the video, and Ms7 just listened from across the room while watching Kim work. Still, she was listening the whole time, and we talked a little about the ending afterward. She was a little sad that Frodo had left across the Sea, and also sad that Sam and Merry and Pippin hadn't gone with him. She talked about having a number of unanswered questions, too, but she wasn't focused on them as we got ready for bedtime: bits of conversation about the book were scattered among longer conversations about a book they'd read at school today or about a game she'd been playing in Roblox.

I don't know quite how to assess her final impressions, given all that, but she clearly did love the story. Enough so, in fact, that she suggested that the next thing we should read ought to be something about what happened before The Lord of the Rings, "like maybe that book Beren and Lúthien you were reading." I've suggested that probably we ought to read some other things for a while, and that the older stories will probably be better when she's a bit older. But since she did talk about wanting to know more about what happened next, and what happened to Elanor when she got older, I've offered to read her Tolkien's epilogue, which was cut quite late from the final draft of The Lord of the Rings: it's a conversation between Sam and his kids (especially Elanor) about "what happened after?", addressing a lot of the same questions that Ms7 has been asking. (But which of the two versions should I read to her? Hmm.)

This has been a lovely experience for me and for Ms7, and hopefully Kim has enjoyed it as well. (At the very least, she's been awfully patient and supportive these past two and a half months as she took her turns at reading.) I know it's time for a change of pace, but I remain deeply touched by how much my daughter has fallen in love with my favorite book. I'm also glad that some of you who've followed along here have enjoyed sharing parts of the journey with us: that's been a real pleasure, too. But for now, namárië and goodnight!

This writing copyright © 2018-20 by Steuard Jensen.
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