Saturday, July 23, 2011

Books and children

While looking for bloggers who seem to enjoy the same kinds of books I do I came across In Which I Read Vintage Novels. The Suzannah whose site it is offers lots of good comment about a lot of good reading. A recent post, "Books for Boys" provides a long list of good books, after which she offers some advice about getting children to read. Her first point reminded me that my father read to me even after I could. When he asked why I wanted him to, apparently my response was "because I can hear better when you read."

This seems like very good advice:
  • Read to your children aloud. This will help you coach them in worldview discernment. It'll also help them through books that they might not try reading on their own.
  • Never categorise books as “too hard,” “too boring,” or “too girly.” They'll never know that Shakespeare is too hard to read unless you tell them. Nothing wrong with getting footnoted editions, though. Or make it really easy for them: read one of the comedies aloud with funny voices. Don't categorise Austen as a romance writer. For one thing, it's not true, and for another, it'll put them off. All the men I know who've tried Austen sincerely enjoyed her and you might as well give your boys that enjoyment early.
  • Encourage them to read books above their level. When I was four my mother read the Chronicles of Narnia aloud to me. I still remember the line “Let the vermin be flung into a pit” from Prince Caspian. I didn't know what “vermin” meant, I didn't know what “flung” meant, and I had only the shadowiest notion of a “pit.” It didn't impair my enjoyment of the story one bit, and it introduced me to new words. In fact, the best way to build vocabulary is to learn words from context, encountering them in books. After all, that's how you learned as a baby.
  • Focus on the fun of reading. Nobody reads a book if they think they won't enjoy it, especially not ten-year-old boys.
  • Have high expectations, throw out the TV, and don't let anyone kid them into thinking that Edmund Spenser or Shakespeare or Beowulf is above their heads.
In Which I Read Vintage Novels: Books for Boys

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