What to Read?

Faith over at Dumb Ox Academy wrote a post called “Teens and good choices” that got me thinking about how my children have come to make good choices as it pertains to reading material. She wrote:

I have been thinking about censorship and how homeschooling moms often have the job of prereading their kids books to see if they are acceptable.

You know, I don’t know why, but it never occurred to me to censor books! It’s been more apparent to me to be mindful in sharing my opinions about movies and music, clothing and language, but not books. Hhhmm, it got me to wondering why. Then, Faith went on to write this about her mother:

I think if my mother had been constantly looking over my shoulder at what I was reading, I would have rebelled, but I never felt the need. Instead she talked to me about what was right and wrong and why she saw things that way. And she engaged me in discussion about what was right and wrong. What did I think? And this taught me to be self-censoring. I only want to read what truly interests me. And what truly interests me is trying to be a child of God who honors her Father. I don’t want to read pap and twaddle (for the most part!).

This definitely hit on what I do in my home. Censorship has never been a part of our home; but discussion and opinions and perspectives shared, often! And yet, I still don’t see myself specifically and mindfully discussing book choices by sharing my perspective in order to guide and model for my children good choices in this area. Instead, I believe this is an area that is near and dear to my heart, and I have shared that instead . . . my love of books!

Books were treasured by me as a child. I begged my mother the summer between kindergarten and first grade to teach me to read. She simply kept a chant up of, “Wait until first grade” to my ever increasing insistence. (She wouldn’t have made a very good homeschooler, I think.) So, I waited, and all but inhaled the reading instruction in first grade. In fact, the only part of the process I remember is the Dick and Jane primers, which I happened to have really enjoyed, by the way πŸ™‚

Anyway, after that, I foraged through that room and read every book, according to the first grade teacher report card I have. When my mother went through a season where she would take me to the public library, I decided I was going to read every fictional animal book they had, starting with the “a’s”. I loved the smell of that library. It was my lifeline to books, coming from a home of little financial means. My Christmas present often entailed a book, that I cherished and would place upon my very special bookshelf of honor. It is one of the few things I took with me when I left home . . . those books.

It is my secret dream to have a library like those of olden times, when there were no public libraries, and people had to have their own personal libraries. I am Belle of “Beauty and the Beast”, who revelled in such a location! We turned our formal dining room into a library, so I have a mini feal of a library in our home. We own at least 2,000 books. The access my children have to great books in comparison to what I had growing up is like comparing a pauper to a prince. Is that why I didn’t ever consciously think to model good choices as it pertains to books? Because my love of books overflowed into their everyday lives, and the modeling naturally existed.

I remember when I was bored growing up, I would go look for some books to look at. There was basically one set of nature/animal books available to me to look through, a set of encyclopedias, and the Childcraft book series. I usually looked at the animal series or the Childcraft series. I used my past experience of how I spent my bored moments, as well as my love of my own homemade bookshelf, and created a similar opportunity for my children to savor books.

I started when my children were very tiny. Each child would have their own bookshelf in their own rooms. Within each child’s room, on each child’s bookshelf, would accumulate those titles they were most interested in at the time. It was where I could put some of my “finds” from the bookstore that I thought they might like or would add to their current interests. Unlike my few favored books I owned, I found the children often rotated which books would reside in their room based on interest, age, and style of reading.

We had a rhythm to our evening hours. There was a time when it was “time for bed” in which each of us retired to our own bedrooms. We would then “settle down” doing some quiet activities, enjoying alone time, or . . . reading. This is when I thought the opportunity would most arise for my children to seek out what was in their bookshelves in their rooms, and I was right. It holds fond memories for them. An hour or so later, we would peek in and say, “Time to go to bed, to bed,” which meant REALLY go to bed. LOL!

So, that’s what my children grew up hearing about . . . my love of books. Since Faith specifically talked about her teenage daughter’s good choice of books, I will gear my last thoughts toward my teenage daughter. She has my books from my childhood now. It really wasn’t that much her style, but she knows my reverence toward them. I talked about the books I read as a child, as a teen, as an adult, to my daughter. I would share what I loved about them, if I hated something, if it moved me, if it inspired me.

The other thing I shared specifically with my daughter, because she has my “organizational love” within her genetic make-up, was how from about age 9-14 I wrote out on index cards all the books I ever read, and wrote a little “review” about each. I kept it in a yellow flowered metal recipe box. Abbey, my daughter, so loved the idea, that she thought she would try her own version of it. She did both a (plastic) recipe box style as well as the technological style that she excels at. Abbey’s reviews SO exceeded mine by a long shot! I love it πŸ™‚

4 responses to “What to Read?

  1. I, too, am a lover of books and dream of having a library someday. I’ve passed that gene on to my oldest, too!

    Want to see something fun? Dick and Jane are back! My kids thought I had lost my mind the day I found this in the store and made them listen to me read it. But what nostalgia – the pictures are just as I remembered them. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0448433400/sr=8-2/qid=1150953423/ref=pd_bbs_2/103-4407282-0196602?%5Fencoding=UTF8

  2. Kris, Yes! I’ve seen them in the local bookstores, and have been very, very tempted to buy them, even if just for nostalgia’s sake πŸ™‚

  3. I loved this article! I think we lived parallel lives. πŸ™‚ I had the same experiences growing up…no books at home besides a few encyclopedias and the newspaper. I lived at the library as soon as I could ride my bike there. I think I overcompensated when I had my own family. We have more books than bookcases, but it’s wonderful – and my kids are always reading!!

  4. Dumb Ox Academy

    Hi Cindy,

    I really enjoyed reading this. I wanted the Beast’s library too! I especially love the index card/binder idea. I might adopt it!