Happy hottest month of the year!! I usually dread this month, with its scorched grass and blistering temperatures. I feel so keenly the blaring of the sun, always watching like the Eye of Sauron. I’ve already found myself longing for flannel and spiced hot chocolate and crunchy leaves and crackling fires and pumpkins. But I must not let myself fall headlong into such dreams. Autumn is months away. Months away…. No, this August I will relish the remainder of my. last. summer. with my little lamb before she goes off to kindergarten. And speaking of little lambs and learning, this month’s book talk is for them.
When it comes to choosing books for my girl, I am extremely selective in what we read. Books are the first ways that we shape their little characters and I want to be mindful of that as I choose her literature. It’s important to me that the texts she is exposed to challenges her academically and helps her to grow spiritually. The ultimate goal is that she become a lover of words and a lover of the Word. Many Christians, today, are biblically illiterate and struggle to have a desire to read Scripture, let alone understand it. I want to give my children the tools to read, comprehend, and love the Bible. Here are some things we do to encourage a love of reading in our house and ensure she’s receiving good, life-giving instruction from texts:
- We read all day, everyday- We start each day with God’s Word and end with God’s Word. Every morning, we begin our day with Scripture. For the past few weeks we’ve been focusing on the Ten Commandments. After breakfast, I settle Clara into my lap, wrap her up in a big hug and we read the Ten Commandments together. Later in the day, we will read a picture book or a chapter from her current read. We’re about to finish reading Ella Enchanted. While she’s playing, or if we are running errands in the car, I will put on an audio book for her to listen to. And then at bedtime, she will pick out a picture book for her daddy to read to her followed by the Bible.
- We read the classics- I prefer classic literature to challenge her and expand her vocabulary. We love to use the Hoopla app through our local library to listen to such books as Winnie the Pooh, Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden, Chronicles of Narnia, The Princess and the Goblin, Mary Poppins, Paddington, Peter Rabbit, Aesop’s Fables, etc. We also use the Streetlights app to listen to Scripture.
- We assess themes- I’m diligent in examining the themes of a book before reading it to her. I don’t want her reading books that are contrary to our Christian worldview. There will be a time when she is older and can make this discernment for herself, but for now it’s my responsibility to protect her mind and her heart. Preview books before reading them to your children.
- We read poetry- If you want your middle schooler or high schooler to love and understand poetry, expose them while they are young. Shel Silverstein is most American children’s introduction to poetry. And while his poetry is fun and has forever changed the way we think when we see a sidewalk come to an end, it should not be the only poetry our children are exposed to. Read Maya Angelou, Walt Whitman, E.E. Cummings, Gwendolyn Brooks, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes. A vast portion of the Bible is poetry. I want my children to love and be able to explicate poetry.
- We read multi-cultural literature- God is not an American. I repeat, God is not an American. In heaven, there will be people from every tribe, language, and nation. And what better way to get to teach our kids about their brothers and sisters in Christ than through literature. Books are mirrors and windows for our children. I make a point to purchase books that represent as many cultures as possible to put into Clara’s library. It’s also important to me to not have a bunch of Bible stories with a white Jesus. Be mindful of this. What we convey to our children about who God is, is important. Kid’s Read Truth is one of our favorite resources for Gospel centered lit. Pro tip: When looking for multi-cultural texts, check to see if the author is from the culture being represented.
- We read books with colorful families- As a transracial family, it is important to us to incorporate books in our kids’ library that “look like us.” We choose books with biracial families and transracial families to show our kids that families come in all shapes and sizes. Some of our favorites are The Hello, Goodbye Window, Guji, Guji, The Simple Life of Ollie & Vern, The Lamb-A-Roo.
- We snuggle- I always wanted my children to associate reading with love. We are intentional about holding our daughter when we are reading to her, pausing for a big hug every now and then, and proffering several kisses on top of her head before the book is through. Reading time has become the most cherished times in our house. When we tell Clara to get a book, she runs to find one and literally jumps into our laps, or as she calls it, ‘her nest.’ And that’s exactly how I want her to feel, like she’s safe and loved and adored in our arms while we read to her.
Hopefully, this post will encourage you to grab a good book and snuggle up with your kids. It’s one of the most important things you’ll do today.