Some find this to be a natural and simple task. Most parents are baffled about it these days, however. Most acknowledge the importance of reading in an education, but many of them are not sure why and, consequently, are frustrated or confused as to how to accomplish this goal.
It's easy to assume that most people who visit this site agree with us about the value of books. Still, in working with parents in our library and from the emails of inquiry we receive, we know that our modern world has some particular challenges that conflict with our attempts to immerse our children in good books and instill the habit of reading. At this recent seminar, Robin gave a powerful presentation of the dangers facing our culture due to the lack of reading. Studies and statistics abound that indicate that few Americans pick up a book in a year. Indeed, reading is threatened with extinction. Our use of technology, so accessible and useful, if not used with understanding of its negative effects, is one of the enemies of developing the art of being a reader.
After her potent and convincing arguments, I had the privilege of presenting the solution. Compared to the complexity of technology, it was simple. It might be so simple, it is ignored. If you read my posts often, you already know the kinds of things I talked about: how we as humans are made to communicate through words and acquire knowledge through story, how children learn naturally through story, and the joy of family reading in not just engaging your children with literature, but deepening and strengthening relationships. The problems we discussed are not easy to solve, namely, reading is work, and, reading takes time. The ease of electronics and the pace of our pursuits oppose our success in this endeavor.
Brave parents, wise parents, face the challenge and take action. The key to winning the battle for reading with our children is within us. If we want our children to not just perform the act of reading, but become intimately enthusiastic and independent pursuers of books, we must do two things: 1) read to them; 2) read ourselves. Every single day.
I know, I know - you don't have time. Life is too full of too many things. Still, rewards are for those who attempt something. I gave the families last Saturday a plan that I offer to any of you who will take me up on it. Here are the ten books I suggested they read in the next six months:
1. Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen
2. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
3. The Call to Wonder by R. C. Sproul
4. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
5. The Shallows: What by Nicholas Carr
6. A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy
7. The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
8. Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt
9. Of Other Worlds by C. S. Lewis
10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Impossible? I did the math and promise that if you spend only ten minutes every single day in reading through these books, you will easily get through the books below. You may have already read some of them, to which I suggest either refreshing yourself with reading them again, or, substituting others on your list of things you might like to read some day. I chose these particular books because of the complementary ideas within them, though they are of different genres, are from different perspectives, and at different reading levels. Would anyone care to take me up on this project?
For the joy of reading,