My father read it out loud to my sister and I when I was about nine. My parents had already read and told us the Silmarillion since before we could speak, so LotR was merely a continuation of the mythology that we knew so well. And, of course, we knew the basic story from "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" at the end of the Sil. I must admit that I found LotR to be rather boring compared to the epic tragedies of the First Age (although not so boring as the Hobbit), and while I have grown in appreciation of LotR it still does not compare to the Quenta.
Favorite Tolkien character:
Maedhros, in all his tragic glory. He had the potential to be perhaps the greatest Elf in Arda, born without the tragic flaw of Feanor (who was *too* great to ever be the greatest), but he was brought low by his unshakable loyalty, which in other circumstances would be considered a virtue. He was responsible for some of the greatest glory and greatest tragedy of the tale of Arda. He, perhaps more than any other character, embodies the theme that threads through all of Tolkien's work: great deeds are no less great because they are in vain.