I sit down with my cup of coffee and look around. One of my sons sits on the couch, eyelids drooping with late-afternoon sleepiness. A couple of kids are lying on the floor, limbs draped over various pieces of nearby furniture. Another child is cozied up in the chair next to me with a blanket; a little one is coloring at the table within earshot. I’m not sure where my 6-year-old is, but I know she’ll show up soon and take in much more than I realize.
We’re ready to read.
It’s one of my favorite homeschool activities. It feels so easy, so simple, yet the effects are so profound.
I start to read and I wonder if anyone is even paying attention. But then we pause to comment on a character or a setting or a plot twist, and I know that reading aloud is one of the most valuable times in our day.
When I read to my children, their minds are being educated. They are learning new vocabulary words, sentence structure, the architecture of a beautifully constructed paragraph or chapter, and golden nuggets of information about history, Greek mythology, geography, and a myriad of other subjects.
But more importantly, their hearts are being educated.
Reading aloud to my children compels them to slow their bodies down so their minds and hearts are free to wander …and wonder.
They become well versed in the practice of imagining, dreaming, and envisioning.
Reading aloud sparks conversation about choices the characters make and about how to handle a moral dilemma. My children are inspired by characters that, although fictional, have become real through the decisions they face that are common to all.
Was Pip justified in stealing the food for the convict?
Can I better appreciate what I have just like Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy?
Which one of King Lear’s daughters displayed real, authentic love for her father?
These works of literature allow us to wrestle with virtue and vice; they sharpen our discernment of character; they bring our imaginations into contact with beauty which in turn ignites and sustains the hope of heaven.
These worlds that we are plunged into by reading awakens our emotions, teaches us how to manage our fears, and exposes us to the reality that evil exists, but that there is also a hope and a good that will always win in the end.
And all from the safety of a home filled with love and a parent who is there to guide.
As I open the book, I feel the journey beginning. And I know that, little by little, something astounding is happening.