All people in all places around the world love stories. It must be because our Creator is the Master Storyteller and we live in anticipation of His final climax: His Glorious Return and the final destruction of our enemy and all those in his bondage. As we gather together with extended family, there are always stories, "I remember when I met your mother..." "The first time he ever..." "When I was your age...." Once we hear the beginning of a good story, we are hooked, wanting to hear the rest of the tale.
We teach our children to read so that they can read the Bible, drawing closer to their Savior and Redeemer, Jesus. That is the most important reason. We also want them to read to learn. They will read all kinds of writing that brings knowledge and information. There is a third reason we teach our children to read: we give them a passport. This passport can take them on any adventure they would like to embark on, to places where they can meet people they've dreamed of meeting, or to any place in the entire world, real or imaginary.
When children are young, teach them to value reading as a treat and privilege--something they look forward to! If your child is always having to write a book report or read books he doesn't like, reading may not be a great joy in his life. If television is always on, he will most likely choose it because watching television is a passive activity that requires no mental exertion! Remove the computer and the television as competitors by limiting their use. You might have television-free and computer-free hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Don't make your child write book reports when he/she is young any more than once a year. Instead talk about the books your young child reads and keep talking with them when they are older Let your conversations age with your child so that by the time he/she is in middle school, you are actually analyzing literature in your conversations.
Literature, like music, paintings, sculpture, and ballet, is a work of art. All the elements of art can be found in literature with different names. Just as there is line in art, there is a plot line in literature. But, be careful not to analyze literature by picking apart the various elements As in works of art, literature should be enjoyed and analyzed as a whole. The whole book is more than the sum of its parts (plot, setting, characterization, point of view, theme, tone, style). Begin literature analysis by talking about the emotions felt while reading a book. Talking is better than writing, though in high school children should write about literature too.
Talk about literature with your children.Do they like the book? Why? Who was their favorite character? Why? Would they have given it a different ending? Were they scared? Do they wish they could meet the characters in the book? Who would they want to hang out with? Would they have been so brave?
Give children classic books to read. These are the books of literary and moral excellence. Surviving the test, these books have been enjoyed by generations of children. I have booklists on my website that you are welcome to use download and use, Lighthouse Reading Lists. Realize that books have been "dumbed down" in the last 100 years, so look for older books that will stretch reading abilities. One place to get older books is Salem Ridge Press, whose goal is to bring back wholesome children's books from the 1800's and early 1900's. Another place I get classic books is Dover Publications, who sells classic books in expensively, but be careful because they offer everything, not just wholesome books.
One thing that we enjoy are book clubs with other homeschooling families. Once a month we meet, enjoy yummy snacks, and discuss a book that we've all read. Moms and children all read the book. Not only has it been fun, but the children are learning more about literature than ever before as we discuss the book together.
Maybe you haven't read good literature and you feel overwhelmed. Relax! There are lots of great books out there. Grab my list or someone else's and go on a book hunt at used books store and the public library. Just start reading aloud with your children.
When homeschooling moms tell me that they have trouble teaching their children, I suggest that they (the moms!) read good literature. Whenever a mom has followed my suggestions, her ability to homeschool and her enjoyment of homeschooling improves dramatically. Along with studying the Bible, reading good literature affects all areas of academic pursuit.
Read, read, read good literature that will satisfy your soul and glorify God!
For the Joy Set Before Us!
(Meredith Ludwig Curtis)