A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.
-Henry David Thoreau
We finished scarfing down dinner and washing the dishes by 6:30 last night, two hours before our kids’ bedtime. What to do? What to do?
We popped a huge bowl of popcorn, settled into the sofa, and then I read out loud three stories from Grimm’s Fairy Tales and a chapter from Lewis’s The Last Battle.
When I read to our children, I give each character in the story his or her own voice. I inevitably flub it up—I’ll give Mole Ratty’s voice, or worse—sometimes poor Eustace ends up sounding like Piglet. My kids are unforgiving with such blunders—they stop me, make me back up and find the correct voice, and then do it over again. And I do…and the story goes on.
It’s hard for me to talk about parenting without talking about reading to our three children. Our family loves books. Short stories or long ones, epic adventures or fantasy, we love to read and be read to. Especially in the winter—winter is the time for soup, fires in the fireplace, and tales of good barely triumphing over evil.
I carry a deeply held belief that when a mom or dad reads great stories to their children, the children learn to live in great stories. They learn to dream, imagine, and create. They learn to recognize small stories—tales of poor choices, dull outcomes, and absent protagonists—and they form deeply personal goals of finding bigger and better options from the choices they’re presented with each day. I truly believe that children who grow up loving big stories are less likely to choose a small story for their life.
This makes reading to our children more than simply a fun way to pass time…it’s a formative experience. When Jamie and I read to our three children, we feel like we’re shaping, stretching, and inspiring their little minds.
Moms & Dads – Are you having a bad day? Feeling uninspired? Wondering how to spend time with your children in a way that is easy, fun, and will undoubtedly build into their future? Take up a great book and read to them. Pop some popcorn or make some hot chocolate and work your way through a chapter of Winnie the Pooh. Find your own Piglet voice…your kids will love you for it!
If you’re looking for a place to start, here are a few of our family’s favorites: Winnie the Pooh, The Jesus Storybook Bible, The Chronicles of Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, Little Britches, The Wingfeather Saga, The Wind in the Willows, and for slightly older children, The Lord of the Ring series.