It has been my desire to introduce my children to living books and to instill in them a lifelong love of reading.
Living books are books that breathe life, stir up emotions, and make you want to turn the page. Living books can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, picture books, adventure novels, biographies, testimonies, fairy tales, parables, or nursery rhymes. They are not dry, dusty, and boring. They are filled with interesting knowledge instead of boring facts. In their pages, we meet real-life people or rounded, rather than flat, story characters.
Listening to Good Books
Even as adults we need to listen to good writing read aloud. Picture books (Katy No-Pocket, Are You My Mother?), fairy tales (Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty), adventure stories (Swiss Family Robinson, Jungle Book), tender stories (The Little Princess, Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates), and allegories (Pilgrims Progress, Hind's Feet on High Places) can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Little people love to hear chapter books read aloud, using their imaginations to paint pictures of the stories in their minds. Big people are never too old for a well-written, beautifully illustrated picture book.
I read aloud to my children until they are in high school, though in high school it is usually only once a week, except for Bible reading, and we all take turns reading aloud.
As children hear books and stories that capture their hearts, their appetites are whetted for more. Listening also shows your children "how to read" in their minds when they are reading alone.
When you read aloud to your own children, read expressively, adding sounds and noises when appropriate. Change the volume of your voice as needed to make the story come alive, to add suspense, or enhance the mood.
Once my children could read, not only did they read aloud to me, but they would read aloud to their younger siblings as part of their "schoolwork." This cuddle time not only helped them grow in their reading ability, but fostered close relationships that were valuable to them in the years that followed. A few months ago, I walked in the living room to find my oldest daughter reading to one of her younger sisters. (Katie Beth is 25 and Jenny Rose is 19!) On a recent vacation, we read some of Agatha Christie's short stories aloud with great enjoyment.
Reading alone as a daily habit can become an enjoyable hobby. In our home, we set aside time for quiet reading and everyone reads, even Mom. I had a selfish motive for starting this practice. I never had any time to read myself because I was so busy homeschooling, so I convinced myself that I was "modeling" a love of reading for my kids. Well, really I was being a good example, but it was just so easy and fun to do the right thing that I felt a little guilty.
Young readers can read picture books or short chapter books filled with pictures when they read alone. The important thing is for the books to be easy to read and enjoyable.
Lavish children with good reading material! What are their interests? What kind of stories do they like? The Amelia Bedelia series is wonderful for children because of how it plays with words. Amelia is asked to draw (close) the drapes and she takes out a sketch pad and pencil and draws them. What always saves Amelia from being fired is her yummy desserts.
Later on, add all kinds of books. Most people enjoy reading when they like the characters in the stories they are reading. Series are wonderful because children like characters in books and want to spend more time with them. They can do this by reading more books in the series.
Building a Home Library
Gather living books for your home library to nurture your children's love of reading. Set aside some time this week and enjoy reading aloud a good book with your children. For ideas, see a variety of books lists for all ages on my website, Joyful and Successful Homescholing.
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)