Monday, August 10, 2015

Vision for Children, Seventh Installment

(A portion of the plenary speech at the Charlotte Mason Institute's Annual Conference, June 20, 2015)

Of course, as a child I had no idea faith and wisdom for life were growing in me, only now, by looking over my shoulder, can I see the trail of books that showed me the way.

I’m pretty sure my mother had no idea either. She was young and I doubt if she ever considered educational philosophy in her life. She worked full time, kept an immaculate house, gardened, sewed, baked from scratch, sang in the church choir, served on numerous civic and church committees…and just one of the things on her to-do list was to read to her children. Of all the accomplishments of her life, I count that as her greatest gift to me. She invested in those recorded stories I mentioned, left books out for babysitters to read to us bought us books, took us to the library. This was normal parenting then. Ultimately, she instilled a love of story, a desire to read, and a thousand ideas she had no notion she was planting.

My parents appealed to the state school board to gain the right for blind children to go to public school with specially trained teachers. I was among the first children in America to be “mainstreamed.” I was so excited to begin school, and for one reason only: I was going to learn to read for myself. The funny thing about that is, it wasn’t my teacher that taught me Braille who taught me to read; I had already learned how – I had parents who surrounded me with books, who read books themselves, and who read books to me. Those are the true reading lessons.

The habit was being formed in me unconsciously, as Mason acknowledges the best are:

“The whole group of habitudes, half physical and half moral, on which the comfort of everyday life depend, is received passively by the child; that is, he does very little to form these habits himself, but his brain receives impressions from what he sees about him; and these impressions take form as his own very strongest and most lasting habits.” (Home Education, pp. 124-125)

Children thrive naturally in the soil that feeds them. Those fed with strong stories will have strong imaginations, an immense warehouse of stored experience and wisdom. We need to develop such a reading atmosphere for our children if we want them to read, plant seeds from living books to cultivate imagination and equip them for life. My parents set me in that path and that well-formed habit has only deepened.

For the joy of reading,



  1. Liz,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so grateful for your ability and willingness to articulate why stories matter, why living books matter. I return to your blog again and again, simply because you speak truth to my soul and encouragement to my spirit. I'm so glad the folks at the Charlotte Mason conference got to hear these words and be inspired and encouraged as well. Thank you for sharing them here, too!


    1. Kimberlee,
      I think we all love sharing about stories because they take us so close to the heart of God. I am thankful too, for all of them in my life, and for people who love them as much as I do.

  2. I just LOVE this series. Thank you for sharing it with us. The Home Education quote is so good. I'm going to chew on that today! :)