Having spent most of my life in northern Michigan, winter has always been a long season. After the holidays
especially, it became the tradition in our family to hole up, play games, and read good books.
This winter is turning out to be a mild one here in southwest Virginia, but the habit is established. My two youngest sons and I have been reading through Snowbound by John Greenleaf Whittier. They like poetry, but we have been reading this longer poem in little segments. I'm glad we are not buried in snow as he describes, but one of the charming pictures in that poem is the gathering of friends and family around the hearth in the evenings of their isolation from the outside world during a blizzard. Imagine a day long gone without the entertainments and preoccupations of TV, YouTube, DVDs, iPods, iPhones, electronic games of any kind. What in the world did they do? They played games, told stories, and read books. Whittier wrote the poem years after this particular snowstorm, but the memories are still vivid in his mind of the people there, their personalities, and their favorite things to talk about and read aloud.
Family reading has so many positive benefits. I'm thinking of just a few:
- Unites the family.
- Ignites imaginations.
- Builds a fund of common experience to discuss - even jokes to share for years to come.
- Gives family members a chance to practice reading aloud and increases their public speaking abilities, dramatic arts, or simply proficiency at reading.
- Increases vocabulary and knowledge of the world.
- Sparks ideas that lead to other fun family activities.
- Appeals to all ages and can be enjoyed by all members.
- Brings a quiet and calming effect, a change of pace from the normal frenetic family activity level.
- Allows the family to travel to distant places together very inexpensively and frequently.
- Cements memories that last a lifetime.