I have had this on my mind all week. Considering the fact that this is Thursday, and that I am a busy mama of five, the fact that I keep thinking about this for 4 consecutive days in a row, must mean I need to write this out. Typically when I talk or write about something, I am speaking to myself just as much. It’s not like I have this parenting thing all figured out. So what has been on my heart? Books.
I am a bibliophile. That means I love book. I want more books. I have more books than I could every possibly read in my lifetime. But, I still want more books.
When I first started doing more read aloud with my children, I thought that the love of reading would come more naturally to them. I had read online articles on all the benefits of reading aloud to your children: establishing relationships, academic acceleration, sibling bonding, and more, just to name a few.
It was easy to pick out the books to assign and read aloud; you should always start with the classics right? The kind of ones that have excellent morals, with children that are everything we want in our own children. Here’s the clincher though, our children are not Elsie Dinsmores! Want an even more deep thought? It is not a book’s responsibility to train up our children!
It is like placing your children in the middle of a group of well-behaved children. Just because you do that, doesn’t mean they will become well-behaved children. I can’t tell you how many times parents assumed that because their children hang out with mine, that their children will become like mine. But it doesn’t work out that way. And neither does shoving good, even great literature, at children make them replicas of whatever character they are reading. It is all about the heart. Children are way smarter than we give them credit! They can read between the lines, even if we don’t know we have them to begin with.
Don’t get me wrong, as a mother of five children, I understand the constant demands, internal struggles, and uncertainty we face. We want a guarantee that our children are going to turn out well. And here is a book where the children did just that. I mean, have you ever read something that you are loving the characters, they are beautiful, sweet, spunky, caring, loving, all of that, and then at the end of the story they turn into a trashy, angry, bully kind of character? I certainly have never come across that in all my years of reading hundreds, if not thousands of books!
However, just reading great books are not going to do the work that you have been called upon to do. You are a living breathing human being. Your children are living and breathing as well. I know, shocker right? A book is a thing. It is not human. It is not a person. It has good ideas and moral. Just like, reading the Bible doesn’t make you a Christian. We have to build a relationship through communication, tears, training, and so forth, with our children. It isn’t done for us. We have to INVEST time, hardship, joy, sorrow, everything INTO our children. We have to do the hard thing sometimes and say “no” in order that we can more often say “yes!”.
This is definitely a struggle for me. When I see a weakness in my own area then I turn to a book that will fix it, correct? But, I can’t tell you the countless books I have read on being a patient and understanding mother, and I STILL struggle with patience with my children. Why? I repeat, a book is a tool, it is not a living thing.
So, use reading as a way to connect to your children and open discussions and learn about them. Reading Little House on Prairie will not produce homestead children. I read it and wanted my own farm, but my story is not my children’s. However, reading the Narnia series, can teach me that my children love adventure. Reading Encyclopedia Brown taught me that my children love spy (what child doesn’t?) and all these books teach me more and more about who they are. And we build on that, not just through books but through activities and life and field trips, and videos, and and and and!
So, to summarize everything, I want to really make you ponder on the why behind reading to your children. It is important to realize that a book does not take the place of you as a mother. You are still their mother and all that entails. All the blog posts, podcasts, and even books on what books made the authors a better mom, will not replace the fact that it takes application, dedication, and commitment (and a heavy dose of the Lord) to make a good mom. But do not think that its unattainable. Every person can be one. “I can do all things in Christ who gives me strength!”
That being said, who has read Honey for a Child’s Heart, By Gladys Hunt? Excellent book with many great book recommendations!