By Julianna Dotten
There’s no question about it: our family loves books. If you don’t get the picture from examining our growing collection of overstuffed bookshelves, you might smile when you see the piles of books hitchhiking on car trips. And even when I grow tired of picking up the books strewn about the house, there’s not a doubt in my mind those same books played a huge role in teaching me to love learning.
But I didn’t come to love learning by magic. Beginning when we were young, my mother tapped into the secret of reading aloud to us — often for hours at a time. We would sprawl across the living room coloring with crayons or building K’nex while we explored the Little House books or the latest missionary tale. “Another chapter, please?” we would beg until her throat hurt.
She didn’t stop when we learned to read. Although my three siblings and I pursued our own adventures in the land of books, reading together created a sense of unity we’ll never forget. In fact, nightly read-aloud times have continued throughout high school and into our college years.
One of the great advantages of reading aloud lies in the discussion opportunities that naturally arise. It seems to get harder and harder to find edifying books for children. Instead of compromising on their standards for our reading material, my parents selected books and read them aloud, stopping to explain if the content went above our heads. Reading aloud also gave us a chance to glean from the best books while either discussing or skipping questionable material. Over the years, we’ve perused many otherwise excellent books with details most inappropriate for children. But with a little “editing” skill, Mom or Dad would skip words or even paragraphs. Sometimes we wouldn’t even notice.
It was in this rich atmosphere of reading that my mother most inculcated to us her love for the Lord. Sometimes the books themselves spoke volumes of what a Christ-centered life looks like. Whether she chose The Hiding Place (Corrie Ten Boom), I Dared to Call Him Father (Bilquis Sheikh), or Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, she communicated a love for the greatest learning pursuit of all: knowing God.
Other times, the books would spawn discussion on some great life lessons that may have never come up otherwise. Even more importantly, she used this time to read the Bible and work on scripture memory together.
If you haven’t tried reading aloud yet, why not incorporate the love of books into your homeschool? Start slowly — lunchtime offers a great opportunity to maximize on your children’s undivided attention — and work up to greater lengths of time. Before you know it, your children won’t let you stop!
Have a second to share? In what ways has reading aloud played a part in your homeschool?