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Creating a Culture of Reading

Rome wasn’t built in a day; and creating a culture of reading is not something achieved with a grand one off gesture, it is created with daily perseverance, with one more chapter, one more poem, one more book through the years. There has been a lot in the media lately about the importance of continued reading aloud even when a child is an independent reader. Now with four children aged 10 down to 4 years this means reading aloud to keep everyone happy involves many different books. My 10 year really doesn’t want to listen to The Tale of Tom Kitten, AGAIN (to be honest I’d like my little Beatirx Potter fan to broaden his literary horizons a little!); and the books that will interest and challenge my 10 year old are too advanced for the boys. So to create a culture of reading that we all enjoy I have different books on the go. Each child has their own read aloud. My 10 year old daughter and I read a Christian biography (generally) once the boys are in bed, something suitable for her but something I would be interested in reading also, we don’t do this every night I want this to be an enjoyable time, not a chore. My 4 year old has various books that preschoolers like, his night time story is important to him, but we also read at different times through the day as time allows (Beatrix Potter plays a big part in his life just now!). The other boys are read to when we can fit it in through the day. Some evenings we can fit in a read aloud time for each child, sometimes not. And there individual books often interest one of their siblings, for example, Just William was Noah’s read aloud but Beka sat in on it too and both giggled heartily. I will also add read alouds into our school day, for example we are reading the Bronze Axe as part of our history work just now. I will also have books we can dip into as a family, for example “Parables of Nature” or “Trial and Triumph”. Most of all I make reading a priority, the goal is to create a love of reading in the lives of all my children. Sometimes I feel like I’ve failed that day, that we have hardly read anything. Sometimes I feel like I can’t face reading another children’s book. But it’s about perseverance and finding books that you enjoy as well as your children. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Some Summer Reading Suggestions: For Mama and Children...

With time freed up over summer it’s a great opportunity to do a bit extra reading. This year in general I have been reading a few Christian biographies, and found it encouraging and inspiring. I have been learning lessons I would not have expected from them, and found by reading them my own spiritual life has been enriched. Here’s a few suggestions: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Yes, as you may expect this book teaches perseverance in the midst of terrible suffering, and that obedience costs. But what I didn’t expect to find was lessons in parenting. Her childhood was simple, they were a rather poor family, but her parents taught her trust in the Lord throughout all the trials life through at them. I would encourage every parent to read The Hiding Place. The family teaches simply living ones faith out daily, keeping prayer and God’s Word central in all things will reap a harvest in the lives of your children. God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew. This year is the 60th anniversary of the founding of Open Doors. God’s Smuggler is the story of how Brother Andrew came to smuggle Bible’s into Communist Europe and how the ministry grew from humble beginnings into the worldwide ministry it is today. Given the significance of this year I thought it a good time to read his biography. Although I am still in the middle of it I am again finding this amazing man’s faith and trust in God inspirational. The testimonies of God’s guidance in his life, and the lives of those involved in his ministry are encouraging and faith building. For pure pleasure I have also been reading Emma by Jane Austen, this is the 200th anniversary of it being published. Austen is a happy place to delve into, reading her books is like having a cup of tea with a very dear and old friend. I have also recently finished Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson. I love Sally Clarkson’s books, they also encourage me as a mother, and this is an excellent book not only for parenting but living life intensionally. For the children we have been reading Alice in Wonderland, this year is the 150th anniversary of it being published (I seem to like reading books with significant anniversaries!). The Jedi Boy has also been introduced to the Just William books by Richmal Chompton. Think Jeeves and Wooster for children to have an idea of the kind of humour! They have proved a big hit- well written fun and nonsense. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Book Review: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

We have been reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne as our afternoon read aloud. This is a great book to read as a family- the action is fast paced, the chapters short, and the the pages full of new and exciting things to capture the imagination. As we try to sit down together in the afternoon to read, I like something that can hold the attention of all the children- especially after a day of school work. So the short chapters of 20,000 leagues worked well. This is also a great boy book- it is full of adventure. And despite the total lack of girl characters, my daughter really enjoyed it as well. The action surrounds a mysterious “creature” stalking the oceans. When Professor Aronnax finds himself on board this giant submarine The Nautilus. Unable to escape, he and his two companions are taken on many fascinating adventures across the globe. The Professor is intrigued by this wonderful piece of technology, and how the strange and mysterious scientist Captain Nemo has harnessed the power and wealth of the seas to provide them with everything they need. The children found the adventures excited, and kept asking questions as to the identity of Captain Nemo, and if Professor Aronnax and his two companions will ever make it back to land again? Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Real books vs. ebooks?

This year I finally bought my own Kindle (The Girl has had one a while now, and I have used it a little, but not seriously). Not only did I get my first Kindle I was also given an iPad (I am a lucky girl!); so I have experienced reading on the cheap version of the Kindle and the Kindle app on the iPad. As far as a reading experience would go, I preferred the usability of the iPad (I would imagine any tablet, or higher spec version of the Kindle would be much similar.) However, after excitedly downloading many books to the kindle and reading a few I found myself very quickly missing real books, to the extent I had to hold myself back from re-buying them in paperback format. I found especially when reading non-fiction, that the e-readers hugely disappointing: you fail to have the ease of flitting from place to place, you cannot make a quick note in the margin, or mark bits with the same ability to quickly nip back to check some thing later. I also began to think that I wasn’t really retaining the information I was reading on the Kindle, as well as I would normally. I was a bit reluctant to admit it, but I missed real books, but I liked the price of the Kindle ones! Then I came across a recent study, which confirmed pretty much everything I had been experiencing- we do absorb less when we read from an e-reader! The study postulates that the multi-sensory experience we received when reading off paper, enhances the learning experience: the feel of paper, the turning of the pages, how when we hold it the book thickens in one hand as it thins in the other. How often can you recall reading a particular part of a book by visualising it on the page in your mind? Well we don’t do that with Kindles- all the pages look and feel the same. Consequently, I have switched back, almost exclusively, to real books. Although I can still see the value in being able to buy quantities of good books, very cheaply- or even free- so they have their place now I suppose! And as e-readers are going no where soon, we will all, including our children, have to get use to them. I also wonder if in time, our brains will adapt to the new way of reading? But I for one hope there will always be a place for bookshelves overflowing and laden with wonderful, beautiful books. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child...

Of late I have been reading “Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child” by Anthony Esolen. The book is essentially a critic of modern popular culture, and is highly thought provoking- in reading it I see the gaping holes in my own education: how you can be both highly educated and yet rather ignorant. Esolen’s writing is beautiful, and has rightly been compared to C.S. Lewis. He evokes an ideal of childhood which is both rich as well as beautiful and exciting. But he does so with cutting sarcasm- it’s fantastic stuff! He argues that in our modern economy that it is desired to raise a generation of drones, who are unable to imagine, and the think deeply. We need robots, happy to sit behind desks, or in factories performing mindless tasks for the entirety of their adult lives. He outlines ten ways to go about this: Keep children indoors as much as possible Never leave children alone Keep children away from machines Remove fairy tales and fantasy stories Cast “aspersions” upon Heros and the patriotic Make us all equal Turn love into nothing more than mechanical sex Remove distinctions between men and women Distract children with continuous noise Deny the transcendent A particularly beautiful part of the book, which gives you a flavour of Esolen’s style is from the Chapter entitled “Distract the Child with the Shallow and Unreal” where he argues that it is dangerous to allow a child to enjoy silence- space to think; instead we should fill childhood with noise. I have in mind a young man, about sixteen years old, not at all busy making a career for himself, or being creative, or speaking endlessly about his qualifications for admission to this or that university. In some ways, he was a kind of lazy fellow; a lover of music to the end, who played the violin for the sheer joy of it. He was a daydreamer on the hillsides in Tuscany, its slopes dusky with olive trees and dotted with dark conical cypresses, bathed in the Mediterranean sunlight coming down from a clear blue sky. And in that silent place he wondered about light- about what it would be like to ride a ray of sunlight. We might say he lay there listening to the light’s whispering. His name was Albert Einstein.” Wonderful isn’t it? Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Lessons from Tom Kitten

We are huge Beatrix Potter fans. Tom Kitten is a firm favourite with the Soldier Boy. And reading it is a little like a glimpse of modern parenthood. It’s true nothing changes under the sun. In Tom Kitten we see an exasperated mother, trying to impress her well-to-do friends; her children suffering the injustice of getting in trouble for a situation not wholly their fault (even though may modern readers may be appalled at the use of smacking!). It’s funny that still today we behave in the same way. We still desperately try to make our domestic circumstances look good to onlookers. I have myself sent noisy children out in the garden to be out of the way, dressed in best clothes, hoping against hope they stay clean, as I get ready- and yes I did feel a pang of empathy for Mrs Tabitha Twitchit. And I think we have all realised at a later date that we have disciplined children unjustly. But what I find so refreshing is that the struggles of modern parents: looking like we have it together, have well disciplined children, feeling the social stress to perform, have always been there. Reading through social media you could think these were modern problems. But they were as much a part of the world of Beatrix Potter as they are today. Mother’s through the ages have been stressed, have had unruly children, nothing changes- you’d think we’d learn to just relax a little. And throughout the ages children have survived their imperfect parents trying to do their best to raise their children. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...
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