Dispelling Darkness One Book at a Time

Jun 29, 2023 | Posted by Deanne

It’s midsummer. By now your kids are tired of the pool, tired of the playground, and tired of having nothing to do. Perhaps you are hearing “I’m bored” come out of their mouths too many times a day. Then there’s your concern that their minds are turning to mush. What is a parent to do? May I offer a solution to all of the above? Read aloud to your kids. There are a multitude of reasons to incorporate this practice into your daily schedule.

Reading aloud prepares children to be good communicators. In his talk Nurturing Competent Communicators, Andrew Pudewa states that one of the most powerful ways to furnish a child’s mind with “reliably correct and sophisticated English language patterns” is to read aloud “in copious amounts” to your children. This gives your children the raw materials to work with when they begin to create their own compositions and speeches. Communication skills are necessary for future academic and career success.

Next, reading aloud makes your children better listeners. The art of listening is quickly becoming a lost art. This is tragic because the skill of listening is foundational to the rest of the four language arts–speaking, reading, and writing. Thankfully, listening is a skill that can be developed; you can do this by reading aloud to your children. For more information on the topic of listening, add this podcast episode to your playlist: “The Four Language Arts Part 1: Listening” (Podcast 203).

Finally, reading and discussing literature with your children cultivates their moral imaginations. Without nurturing, it is easy for one’s imagination to become enamored with evil, wickedness, and lies. We must intentionally cultivate a love for what is good, true, and beautiful in our children. This is the true purpose of quality literature—to make us better people. By reading a variety of literature in a variety of genres, we are enriched with wisdom from across all times and all places. For a deeper dive into this concept, I highly recommend Andrew’s talk Fairy Tales and the Moral Imagination.

Summertime is a great time to begin reading aloud as a family since schedules are typically more flexible. You could take a break from playing outside in the hottest part of the day and read. In the evenings you could read around the firepit. On road trips you can listen to audiobooks in the car. The possibilities are endless! If your children need a little extra motivation, many public libraries have summer reading programs with prizes.

The family bonding that can take place through reading aloud together cannot be overstated. Some of my adult children’s fondest memories are of reading aloud together around the table as we ate lunch. Many times we stayed at the table long after the plates had been pushed aside in order to read just one more chapter. Some of our favorites were The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, and The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series by James Owen.

All this being said, the books we select to read to our children matter. Although our culture may say that reading is de facto good, that is simply not the case. We want to choose books with stories that are whole and healing, stories that tell the truth about the world, stories that promote what is good, true, and beautiful. There are many resources with book recommendations for many ages and topics, such as Read Aloud Revival. However, an easy place to start is with IEW’s Book Recommendations. All the titles on this list meet the above criteria and are sure to become family favorites.

Truly, reading aloud to children is one of the most valuable ways to spend time. Not only does it develop the skill of listening, but it also prepares children to be competent communicators with noble character. In a day and time when people of character are hard to find, it is imperative that we raise our children to be people of integrity. As a single candle dispels darkness, so too can our families be shining lights in a dark world. It all begins with opening a book.

Deanne Smith I attended an IEW teacher-training course the summer of 2006. It resonated with me immediately. I have been teaching IEW writing in some form since then. I became an IEW Certified Instructor in 2010 and have taught my own children and private students as well as in co-op classes and traditional classrooms. This methodology works! In 2018 I became a Regional Exhibitor for IEW—I love telling people about this exceptional program at homeschool conferences. Currently, I have the privilege of implementing IEW’s Structure and Style method at a University-Model school in Aurora, Colorado.

Live Chat with IEW