At a very young age, I was an avid reader. I would come home from the library with an armload of books. My love of books continued through high school, and it was not unusual for my parents to find me sitting in the living room in the middle of the night, lost in the pages of a novel.
After my children were born, the time to read became more and more scarce. I read to Gabriel a lot up until he was around 2 years old. Though I still had a desire to instill in my children a love of books, I found myself reading less and less to them. I’ve heard from other moms that reading aloud to your children above their level is good for them, but Gabriel’s challenges with language and attention span were enough to keep me from pressing on. I almost gave up.
After recommendations from a couple of friends, I bought a book called Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen L. Taylor. I had read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress before, and I wondered if my children can handle sitting through this timeless tale. Upon closer inspection, I learned that Helen Taylor’s book is actually an adaptation of Bunyan’s classic, written from a child’s perspective.
“If John Bunyan were alive at the present time, I think he would forgive me for the liberty I have taken in attempting to unlock his treasury and to bring ‘that gold, those pearls, and precious stones’ a little nearer to the childish hands, which are always so ready to receive such gifts.” — Helen L. Taylor (Preface to “Little Pilgrim’s Progress”)
I looked at the sample pages online. It’s a chapter book with very little pictures. I had been wanting to graduate my children from the big picture story books, but I didn’t know if they were ready. Would they just tune me out when I read aloud to them? To their ears, would I just sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher? “Wah wah woh. Wah wah.”
I decided to take the plunge and began reading the book to them in the beginning of this year. What a wonderful treasure this book has been to me and to my children! During our lunch, I read to them a chapter from the book, and then discuss it over our PB & J’s. Even Gabriel, who still has difficulty with reading comprehension, is recalling many details from the chapters that we read each day. What I am most thankful for is that this book has opened up so many opportunities for me to share the gospel. Our conversations about the book has not been reserved for meal times only because the story has sparked so many questions in their minds about the Bible and Jesus Christ.
What began as a quest to get my children to love books more has enlarged to a heartfelt desire for them to love Jesus more. I had some plans, but God’s plans were greater.
Note: Remember that I was about ready to give up, but I was convicted by Ephesians 5:16 to make “the best use of the time” that God has given me with my children. He also used the following blog post to inspire me to take up this task once more. Perhaps it may spur you on as well.
How To Get Your Children Excited About Read-Alouds
(Photo credit: nickyfairless)