Thursday, July 23, 2015

Our Natural Love For Books

The question is posed, far too often, in homeschooling circles about whether the books children are reading are worthy or not. It seems to follow the homeschooling trend about living books. I find the whole concept a little bit amusing, & often turn away from conversations based on this topic. Now I know that probably sounds odd considering we use literature based curriculum, have bookcases brimming with books, & are constantly posting about one book or another. So why do I avoid the topic?

I was homeschooled, & when I was homeschooled books were an everyday part of my life. I have found memories of working away in hot summer afternoons on cross-stitch projects while Mom read aloud to us. I remember, with great love, Swan Lake, Narnia, & Hans Brinker to name a few. I remember the occasional evening when Dad would read aloud to us from one book or another.

Both of my parents were very avid readers & it was simply normal to see them with books in hand. To hear them tell how they’d stayed up late reading. To find their own shelves bursting with books. I was a slower reader for a while, & had to be pulled, kicking & screaming at times, to try out new genres of books often trapping myself in a corner with one author or another.

Yet, I never remember my parents saying, “Oh honey, put that fluff down & read this lovely meatier book!” Not once do I remember such a thing happening. Yes, I was encouraged to read great literature, sure there were rules & guidelines, but rarely were those even needed. I’m not saying my siblings & I were perfect angels, rather I’m saying that because our parents were readers themselves, because they read to us, & because our schooling revolved around amazing books we learned, from example, how to choose great books.

I can remember many afternoons or evenings standing in the kitchen going into great detail about one book or another that I was reading as I, without being asked, was narrating a book to Mom. Pondering over what would happen next, contemplating the reasonings for what had all ready unfolded. My mother did not require this of me, I simply wanted to share the love of a book I had with her.

We spent other afternoons together sharing the works of Gene Porter, books I still covet for the memories of those days spent together. Little Woman was another book we shared & when I pull it out now & again to read I am often amazed by how simplistic the book seems compared to those long ago mornings when I wondered if I’d ever reach the end.

In my own home the same is true. We’ve been reading to our children from the get-go. Our curriculum has always been literature based. Audio books are commonly on in our car, & when we hit an intersection with some bozo who has his radio up so loud we’re all subjected to the nasty lyrics we simply turn up our story louder. 

We’ve been caught waiting in lines at the store each with a set of headphones all connected to the same device listening, gleefully, to our book wondering if we were right in our predictions for the outcome. We sit in waiting rooms & read books aloud to each other. There’s always a book tucked in the overnight gear, a back up audio book should the first one be finished on the driving portion of our trip, & the discussion of where the nearest bookshop {used or new} or library will be in relation to our outings.

This isn’t something we demand from our children. This is simply the way we live. My children have heard or read many books on the “great or classic” lists. I’ve yet to find a list of books that surprises me as we’ve read a vast amount on those lists all ready. They speak of characters in books like old friends. They spot people debating which book to check out at the library & weigh in on which one is better & why. They carry on regular conversations with the library clerks about books & the only question they ever struggle with is, “Which is your favourite book?” 

“Favourite? I could never choose just one!” is often the reply from each of them. The librarian often nods her head & whispers back, “I know exactly what you mean!"

My children wait anxiously for the appropriate hour to roll around so they can share some great book with their American grandmother. They share their latest awesome book with relatives here who are then inspired to have a read of the book for themselves. Borrowing books between family members is a constant happening. My boys have even been known to inspire friends to go back & reread books or finish series because my own children speak with such loving fondness of the characters held within.

The thing is, my children have also read Pokemon, Adventure Time, Geronimo Stilton, & even Captain Underpants {of which my son borrowed from a beloved uncle..} I’ve never balked or whinged about it. I simply smile & attempt to follow the plot line when an excited child comes to tell me all about what happened. I take them seriously when they say, “Well I wasted 2 days of my life reading that book. It should have come with a warning!” 

My children speak of authors with great joy, & wonder if or when they’ll write another book. They’ve sent letters to many authors & always received a written reply. We’ve had authors send chapters of new books they are working on, complete with drawings. Send them autographed coipes of books, & induct them into special clubs. Even ask for advice about choices for upcoming books, or include quips from them us in ebooks.

There’s nothing wrong with preferring your children read great books, lovely books, amazing books, but I think it’s important to remember books are a lot like ice cream flavours, & this might come as a shock to some people, but not everyone loves chocolate. What appeals to one person may not always appeal to another.

I don’t spend countless hours worrying over how good or bad a book is. I don’t worry if it fits into a specific ideal I have preconceived. I give books to my children as Christmas & Birthday presents. I buy them books when a new interest or curiosity hits. I provide the opportunity for any & every book to be read & allow it all to unfold from there. 

I know there is some absolute rubbish out there, but when your children are use to hearing good books. When they are use to reading great books. When they see their parents & grandparents reading great books, they choose great books too.


Lisa said...

Kendra, I've thought long and hard on this topic lately, and your post blessed my heart today! What a wonderful encouragement! Very well said! :)

Kendra said...

Aww, thank you Lisa. I'm glad you found encouragement!

Dove's Rest said...

I loved this sensible look at books and this post. You are so right, when children are used to good books that see for themselves. Thank you.

Michelle Morrow said...

This is such a lovely post. It's what I also aspire to develop in my children.

Kendra said...

Thanks Ladies. :)