I love books. Aside from my family and my faith, reading is my grand passion, my obsession, my addiction. My husband and children are used to seeing me with my face buried in a book, and hearing, “Just a minute, let me finish this chapter.” I fall asleep reading because I can’t put my book down. This has led to the discovery that when reading in bed, it is safer to lie on your stomach. That’s because your face hitting the book when you nod off hurts much less than the book hitting your face. Trust me on this one.
One of my fervent desires for my children is that they would love to read. If you are able to read, you can learn anything. Want to understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity? Need to know why World War I started? Don’t know who Renoir is? Want to bake a soufflé? Build a tree house? All of this knowledge can be gained by opening a book.
But books are more than facts. They allow you to visit far-off places, some that don’t even exist, and to meet people who lived long ago and find out what they thought, felt, and dreamed. Books are magic.
I’ve taught two of my children to read so far, and the third is well on his way. My daughter Natalie just turned nine. She likes to read. Nancy Drew, the American Girls, Sarah, Plain and Tall – these are all acquaintances of hers. And yet I’ve often wondered if she’s truly experienced the wonder of books: the feeling of sadness when a book ends that’s like saying goodbye to a dear friend; rushing through her chores and schoolwork so she can get back to the story; dragging through the day from lack of sleep because she stayed up to discover how it all turns out.
I’ve tried to nurture love of reading in my children by making story time a part of our day. Picture books, science books, children’s encyclopedias, poetry books, novels all abound on our shelves. This year my daughter and I have read longer books together, and it has been a special experience to introduce her to some of the beloved friends I remember from my favorite books.
Last week, Natalie and I started reading The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis. And it was magic. At the end of each chapter, she would beg me to keep reading. Because we were on a break from our homeschooling, we were able to spend hours together. We watched the creation of Narnia as Aslan sang it into existence; hated and feared Jadis, the Evil Queen; grieved with Diggory over his mother’s illness; and cheered when Strawberry got his wings and became Fledge, the noble steed.
At one point, as the animals of Narnia sprouted from the ground and the few were chosen for the gift of speech, Natalie turned to me with her eyes shining. “Mom, it’s like I can see it. It’s just like I’m there! Then when you stop reading, I look around and realize I’m at home, and I think, Oh, why can’t it be real?”
It had happened. In the Narnia books she had found her ticket to a new world; and now she understands that each book she opens holds the same sense of possibility. I wonder, where will the next one take her?
Copyright 2006 Carrie Kitzmiller
Originally published at ClubMom