Heart Reflections Live
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Why We Read to Our Children
Aside from cuddling & praying, reading is one of my absolute favourite things that I love to do with our children. I've read all sorts of books to both of our children since they were born. Granted, we've probably missed a few days here & there, but otherwise we've been pretty consistant.
As many of you are probably aware, literacy standards have dropped dramatically in the last 50 years or so. Both of my parents(who are now in their 60's), were educated through the State education system. My Mum was blessed enough a few years ago to be able to buy a fascimile set of her school readers from Prep to grade 7. I was shocked to see how "early" they were reading excerpts from classic literature, compared with the graded age levels printed on the back of many children's books today. I also remember reading somewhere once that the King James Bible was once officially graded to be suitable for Grades 6 or 7. (I'm talking Australian grades here.) How many adults today claim they can't understand it? I wanted something better for our children.
I had a childhood rich in books- many became" best friends". I was taught from childhood, that if I could read, I could learn anything I wanted to. More than anything else for our girls, I desire for them to be able to read & understand & respond to the Word of God & other great works from the past, that can teach them well.
I learnt early on in parenthood that a child will feed on what it's given: whether it's veges or junk food, TV or books. Take this further with regard to reading, & it can be junky books, or quality books & good literature.
We've always endeavoured to keep books elevated at a greater level than TV watching for instance. Our girls watch a very little TV & then mainly DVDs we approve of.
Part of the blame for the decline in literacy levels can go to the switch from teaching phonics to the look-say method. In our country this trend is slowly reversing. But the blame can never totally be laid on the Department of Education. Although we are not homeschooling at this point & may or may not in the future, I still believe that the parents are meant to be the key educators & encouragers of their children, regardless of whether the children go to school or not.
I've recently read the biography of Fanny Crosby. She came from a poor family & had a basic education at the local village school.( This was prior to her attending the blind academy.) At home for fun & entertainment, they wrote poetry & her Mother & Grandmother read aloud from books such as the King James Bible, The Pilgrims Progress & other classics. As well as reading them aloud, they also memorized large portions of Scripture.
I've gotten some great ideas from www.triviumpursuit.com on teaching children, & they have some good lists for recommended reading as well.
When you read good literature, your vocabulary improves, & your mind absorbs how good sentences are constructed,& stories are put together. I always try to choose books that are above our children's supposed age level, & our 2 1/2 year old now has an amazing vocabulary & uses her words in context- words like excellent & actually. We haven't pushed her to learn new words, it's just happened as we've been enjoying our books.
My husband loves to write too, but from an early age,he's had problems with spelling.( I'm his editor!) For the last 2 years he's been reading the King James Bible & during that period of time, the corrections I've had to make have noticably decreased.
We still have some short books that are just for fun & these will be handy, as the children learn to read for themselves.
So what would I recommend in the way of reading material for family read alouds.
-Well written Bible stories with realistic pictures
-read scripture straight from the King James, especially if they already know the stories
-real-life missionary stories
-poetry like Milton & Keats
-Children's classics like A.A. Milne & Beatrix Potter
-chapter by chapter classics such as Little Women, Treasure Island, A Christmas Carol, Anne of
Green Gables etc
A last piece of advice:
Leave the TV off for longer, & make friends with good books- your children will thank you for it.