Written by contributor Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom
As a child, I loved reading. My mom would take us to the library each week where I would select 10-20 books to devour in a matter of days. In my dad’s words, I “always had [my] nose in a book.”
Books were sustenance for my imagination — and the adventures I lived through reading were a welcome respite from the cares of the everyday. Thankfully, I married a reader. And even though he favors theology and other non-fiction while I’ll take a novel any day of the week, we have a family that loves the gift of story and who takes great comfort in books.
For me, it’s not a question of reading ability; it’s a matter of loving a good story. I know the stories that my children love will bring them comfort. And that will draw them to reading.
What’s in Story?
The benefits of story are vast, but here are a few that I’ve observed:
While I want to provide my kids with as many enriching experiences as possible, there are limits on our time, expenses, and era. We can’t sail with the Spanish Main or blast into Outer Space.
But, my boys can travel the world — the past, present, and future, as well as worlds unknown — just by turning the pages of a book.
2. Academic Knowledge
The love of story not only encourages reading and therefore reading ability, it also provides us with a certain degree of cultural literacy. The world is full of great books. And academia has not been remiss in recognizing them.
Knowing Beowulf, Bilbo Baggins, Sherlock Holmes, and Robin Hood does not only add to my boys’ childhood adventures. Being acquainted with these characters, story plots, and themes will also help them in later studies as they compare and contrast different societies, look for connections between art and life, and understand literary allusions and jokes.
3. Pure Laughter and Enjoyment
A good story is one that captures you, carries you to another world, and fully entertains you while you’re gone. Laughter is one of the best medicines–I want my kids to taste it as often as possible.
Exposing my family to books helps me achieve this — and provides good fun for me, too.
4. A Shared Experience
Though I have three fluent readers amongst my children, we still have family read alouds. A story that I read to the littles can quickly draw in the rest until all six children are listening with rapt attention. If we’re not reading one book together, it’s not uncommon for a story to change hands several times before it returns to the library or home bookshelf.
By reading in common my kids and I share those wild adventures and develop a sense of camaraderie. We understand “inside jokes” about Muggles or second breakfasts — and our lives together are richer.
Well-loved stories are a comfort. You can trust Aslan and Gandalf to be what you’ve always known them to be, despite the upheavals of your own life. Familiar characters make steadfast friends.
Reading together as a family is a comfort as well. Our day can be full of disagreements and misunderstandings, but spending a few hours in Narnia or the Hundred Acre Wood helps ease the stress of family squabbles and the cares of the mundane.
Many a day have I ditched the lesson plans in exchange for a cuddle on the couch and a journey to some far off place.
Story nurtures our homeschool.
Developing a love of books is one of the most important parts of our homeschool.
Not only is it academically sound, but it is also a way of nurturing my children, of creating a learning atmosphere that is free and flowing, and of providing them stability — in me and in the books they’ve come to love.
What role does story play in your homeschool?