September 28, 2013

The Joy of Reading

I started this post on Facebook, and as I quickly approached 200+ words, I realized it might be a little intense for social networking. So, I decided to post here instead.  You know, so only a brave, few readers with thirty minutes to spare on a Saturday have to be bothered with this. Has anyone seen the Friends episode where Rachel writes Ross that 12 page letter? :) That's me (and Nick is Ross when I write a note to him) anytime I pick up a pen or start typing. I just get carried away. Apologies in advance. See?! I just took an entire paragraph to explain WHY I explain so much! Seriously? Anyways...

Last night marked the night the boys and I finished reading through the entire Little House on the Prairie series together. It was an exciting two-year journey. I feel like the Ingalls and Wilders are part of our family now. As we reached this milestone, I found myself reflecting on the impact reading has had in our lives. How our times reading together have been some of our best times together. Whether it is studying the Proverbs or character traits at breakfast, science at lunch, history huddled around my armchair, audio cd's in the car ("MILES MORGAN!"), or reading through a novel in their bedrooms at night; it has been not only an adventure, but a joy. The ironic part is, the more we read, the more we enjoy it. I have been taking my boys to the library since Gabe was a baby. After home and church, it is probably our most visited building wherever we are. Upon moving to Michigan, one of the first things I sought was a library card. Before we had a permanent address, before a drivers license or tag, before we even had our beds out of storage. We loved the quaint and cozy library at Auburn Hills. They even had fireplaces. In the children's section. We would stay there and read for a while, check out a boat-load of books, and then walk right around the corner to a nice playground and miles of beautiful forest and walking trails. Even though those were crazy times, (living in a third-story apartment, having just moved across the country, hubby with a new job, not knowing anyone or where we would live next) there were some great times for the boys and I. And our shared love of  reading was central to those times. And it still is today.

 I think this love of reading is generationally passed down. My Mom and Dad devour books. In fact, I think my Dad has an alphabetical list of all the books he has read. (Can you guess where I may have got my OCD tendencies from?) My grandmother is an avid reader and writer as well. My grandfather and her are some of the wisest people I know. Still sharp as tacks as they near 90 years old. We all give each other books for Christmas and birthday presents. We pass around favorite books from one member to the other. I peruse my parents' massive bookshelves for reading material all the time. We covet Encyclopedia collections. Just last night I found my seven-year-old duct-taping up the Kingfisher  History Encyclopedia, for the sixth time. At 10 p.m.

 And so, my children have seemingly "inherited" this lovely reading "gene". Is it nature or nurture? I don't know for sure. I would venture to say the love of reading is cultivated. My parents cultivated it in us, and we in turn have cultivated it in our children.

"Parents often ask me how I can study so many "how to teach" books. When the boys were young, I read nearby while they played in the creek or at the playground. Reading stories out loud to them every night improved my own reading, spelling, and literature analysis skills." Leigh Borton, "The Core".

 As the above quote emphasizes, we are not only enjoying the stories, we are learning. Learning and growing and having fun as a family. It is so simple, yet so valuable and precious to us. To look back at all the books we've read, and all the milestones of our life we have "read" through. To see our boys engrossed in books at night in their beds. To find our four-year old asleep with a 400- pg. science encyclopedia open on his chest. To sit in the library and be able to read through magazines, or a few chapters of my own book, while the boys look through books simultaneously along side me. To be able to travel fifteen hours in the van with only a few novels to listen to. (Another shared love between my family books. We love those little suckers.) Reading the children's version of Pilgrim's Progress to four little faces in awe of every word. These are some of the things we will treasure when the boys are grown.

So, now the question is...what series should we read next? Gabe suggested "Chronicles of Narnia". Even through he has already read through them himself. I have only read the first book myself! Henty books were mentioned. Hubby suggested Tolkien. Might be a little intense for a read-alout, but maybe ;) Catcher in the Rye, perhaps? Ha...only kidding. I do own the book, but will wait a little while. We have already read through most of E.B. White's books. We have recently started listening to The Boxcar Children series, and enjoy those. Any suggestions?

Start reading to them early and keep on reading. The rewards and benefits are too many to list. Do we still watch TV and movies at times? Yes, don't get me wrong. We love some Duck Dynasty, American Ninja Warrior, Turtle Man, and some good ol' Lost In Space dvd's. But, reading is our bread-and-butter. Think about it. How did God choose to reveal himself and His ways to us? Through written word. The greatest book ever, The Bible. Just a thought.

We are a family of readers. It's who we are. It may be considered "dorky" or just plain weird nowadays. But, I delight in that fact. It brings me great joy to see my boys love reading. When I feel like I'm failing at everything else, and our day has been chaos and meltdowns, there is always a book to enjoy at the end of the day. There is always THAT time at night together. We can forget our day and be transported to whatever time and place the book holds for us. I love my little captive audience of readers. Small victories. And the small victory of reading to your kids each day and cultivating that love of reading will invariably add up to huge victories in time. There is no greater gift, in my opinion, than this gift. I look forward to reading to my grandchildren, lord willing. Savor this wonderful joy of reading. You will never regret the time spent reading.

And that's all I have for today. I need to stop writing so we can get to the library. :) :)

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