A Read-Aloud Story for Children
by Char Meredith
All he could do at first was cry. Jonathan was only four days old when he came home from the hospital. He
was a brand new little person, who weighed only a bit more than a bag of sugar. He didn't know how to say
anything. In the big nursery at the hospital all the babies cried. Crying is the only way babies know how to
"Laa-laa-laa," Jonathan cried. He cried when he was hungry. He cried when he was sleepy. He cried when he
was wet, when he was bored, when he was afraid, and when he hurt. Even when he wanted to be laughing all
he could do was cry. "Laa-laa-laa-laa."
Often Jonathan's parents didn't know what he wanted when he cried. They tried to guess. Sometimes they
guessed right. That was good and Jonathan stopped crying. Other times they guessed wrong. That was not
good, and he kept on crying.
All that began to change when Jonathan found out he could smile. He was one month old. He wasn't sure
how he made that first smile the first time he did it, but he was quite sure that what he had done was a very
good thing. His mother and father looked very pleased.
"Look! Jonathan is smiling!" he heard them say. He tried to smile over and over again. He didn't always
succeed when he tried, but when he did succeed he'd hear them say, "Honey! he's smiling! And he knew he'd
done it again.
About the same time he heard a funny sound coming out of his mouth. lt definitely was not crying. He
sucked his breath in, and the same sound came out again. He liked the sound, and tried it again. One day he
did it while Grandma was changing his diaper. She liked the sound too. She laughed and made the same
sound back to him. He smiled and did it back to her. Then she did it again. Then he did it again, and they
both smiled at each other.
One day he heard a different sound coming out of his mouth when he was breathing out. He tried it again.
He was lying on his father’s knees. They were bouncing up and down to the rhythm of the music on a new
"Honey, come here!" his dad called out to his mom. His dad's voice sounded so loud that Jonathan almost
lost the new sound and went back to crying. But his dad started swaying his legs back and forth. That felt so
good that the crying went away. Jonathan looked at his mom and smiled. Then he made the same sound
again. He hadn't lost it after all. Mom laughed and said “My funny boy!" Her voice sounded soft and happy.
Jonathan liked that.
From then on, Jonathan and his family talked back and forth, using the new sounds that kept coming out of
his soft little mouth. Sometimes he felt brave and his talk came out very loud, especially when everyone else
was talking out loud. Sometimes he lay in his crib and talked very quietly to his animal friends. He liked the
new sounds he could make. Now he only had to cry when he felt very hungry. Or very, very tired. Sometimes
he cried when everything took too long. Like having his diaper changed, or his sweater put on.
One Sunday afternoon Jonathan was sitting in his stroller on the back porch. It was a beautiful summer day.
He was almost six months old, and was just learning to sit up by himself. When Dad went upstairs to take a
shower, he left Grandma sitting with him. Mom was getting dinner in the kitchen.
All of a sudden another sound came out of Jonathan’s mouth. "Boom," he said to himself.
"Boom?" Grandmother asked in surprise. "Boom boom boom!" she said back to him.
Jonathan laughed out loud.
“Boom boom boom!” she said again, laughing with him. Boom boom boom boom boom boom boom!”
Jonathan and Grandma laughed together. It was the funniest sound he had ever heard. It tickled him way
down inside his round little tummy.
Boomity-boom! Boomity-boom! Boomity- boom boom boom boom boom!”
Jonathan’s mother came out on the back porch. “What’s going on out here?” she asked.
“Boomity-boom. Boom boom boom," Grandma answered. Jonathan laughed and squealed. His little bare
toes wiggled. His arms whirled like a helicopter. Jonathan's mother laughed too.
Then Jonathans father stuck his head out the door, looking scrubbed and damp from the shower. "What’s
going on out here?" he asked.
"Boom boom boom!" said Grandma, looking at her tall son, who was Jonathan's dad. Her eyes were dancing,
her face wrinkled with smiles.
Jonathan laughed. Jonathan's father laughed. Jonathan’s mother laughed. Jonathan's grandma laughed.
"What’s going on over there?" Neighbor Millie asked. She opened her screen door and stepped out on her
"Boomity-boom boom boom!" laughed Grandma. She motioned for Millie to come on over. Millie brushed
her white hair out of her eyes. She stopped to pick a rosebud from her garden.
"What’s going on over there?" Neighbor Larry called across the fence on the other side. He hung the tongs
on the side of his barbecue grill, and took off his big gloves.
"Boom boom boom!" laughed Jonathan's dad, motioning for Larry to come over. Millie came up the stairs to
the back porch and gave the rose to Jonathan's mom. Larry came up the stairs to the back porch and
whomped Jonathan's Dad on the back. All the grownups began to talk at once.
Suddenly Jonathan felt scared. lt was so noisy. His smile turned upside down. He thought he was going to
Grandma leaned down close to him. She touched the dimple on the back of his hand. "Boom boom boom!"
she whispered, her face close to his ear. Jonathan started to smile. Boomity boom!" she said a little louder.
"Boomity boomity boom boom boom!" She was almost singing. Jonathan's smile spread all the way across his
face. "Boomity boomity," rang out loud and clear. Jonathan laughed. Grandma laughed. Mother laughed.
Dad laughed. Millie laughed. Larry laughed.
All the laughter gathered together in an invisible ball in the middle of the back porch. It rolled out into the
summer evening and across the yard. It bounced over the fence and out into the alley through the
hollyhocks. It bounced into the neighbors' yards around the block, touching each of them with a smile as
they looked up at each other in surprise.
"Dinner's ready!" said Jonathan's mother. She picked him up out of the stroller and hugged him.
Larry tickled Jonathan's pink toes before he went chuckling back to his barbecue. Millie kissed Jonathan's
smooth round cheek before she went smiling back to her garden.
Jonathan’s family went into the kitchen together as his father held open the screen door.
"I’m glad our son is learning to talk," said Jonathan's dad, "and that he has a sense of humor." He smiled
proudly as he put his arms around his wife and kissed Jonathan on the top of his fuzzy warm head.
"Boomity boom boom boom," said Grandma laughing to herself.
c by cha r m eredit h hart zell