Can you tell me from which book these quotes originated?
- “I am a bear of very little brain.”
- “Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
- “Oh no…I don’t understand it. But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.”
- “Is he—quite safe?”
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
If you were able to correctly identify Winnie the Pooh, Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s Web, and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, then you and I have a shared experience in these classics of children’s literature. I am passionate about children’s books. I believe deeply in reading to your kids. In fact, if we sat down one-on-one to talk, I might overwhelm you with uncharacteristic enthusiasm. (There are a few topics that, when I get started talking about them, I can send such a force of information and enthusiasm that it can be like trying to get a drink from a fire hydrant. I’m working on that.)
My personal goal is to create lifetime readers – kids who continue to read and educate themselves throughout their adult lives. Readers who enjoy reading, both for pleasure as well as gathering information. Reading is the heart of education, as all other subjects hinge on whether or not a student can process information from written sources. More than most other educational goals for my children, I hope for their reading ability to be above average and to be able to communicate expertly, both written and verbally.
In 1995, a governmental committee was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education to study why our educational system wasn’t improving. They determined that, since nearly everything in the curriculum of school rested upon reading, that they must study what works, what might work, and what doesn’t work in teaching children how to be readers. Among its primary findings, two seemed worth note.
#1 “The single most important activity for building knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” More important than worksheets, homework, flashcards, etc.
#2 The commission found conclusive evidence to support reading aloud, not only in the home, but also in the clasroom. They said, “It is a practice that should continue throughout all the grades.”
I read aloud to my kids every day. In fact, I read to them quite a bit, every day. We always have some book going. A great deal of our school day is spent reading to them. My kids have been at the age that they can easily read by themselves for a while – and they do read by themselves daily; however, I still read aloud to them. Until the day they skip off to college, walk down the aisle, or pack their bags to join the employed population, I’ll still be reading to them.
I believe there are a few books that no child should leave childhood without reading. Over the next few posts about education, I’ll put together a suggested reading list. I must say in advance that I am quite a snob about books. I don’t believe that just any book should be read – with all of the excellent and quality books that have been published, time should not be wasted on poorly written, plot-less, inspiration-less books.
I hope that you grab a kid (hopefully one that you know!), pick up a book, and spend a few minutes reading to them today. Regardless of their age. Both you and they will be the better for it.