One Chapter Away

Nov 01, 2017 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


Reading Tolkien out loud while two primary-grade siblings engaged in an action-figure battle to the death was not an easy task. Competing to be heard while constant noise and motion were going on around me used to be an incredibly frustrating endeavor. While I took pride in the engagement of my older children in the story line, I was humbled by the apparent disinterest and disrespect shown by my younger children to their father’s voice. Maybe they didn’t quite understand every aspect of the story, but they could at least listen, right?

As it turned out, they actually were. I was astounded the first time my wife told me about the discussion she overheard between the same two primary-grade siblings regarding the content of the previous evening’s reading session. Not only did they remember almost exactly what had happened in the story, but they were now engaged in a discussion essentially regarding character development.

Thanks to my mother and father, I always knew that the time spent reading to my family was valuable. Unfortunately, the naturally chaotic nature that can often occur each evening in the household of a growing family almost had me put the consistent practice of reading out loud on an indefinite hold. The fatigue of working full-time outside of the home and the perplexity of not knowing how to better contribute to the education of my children was not exactly encouraging to me, either. However, once I experienced this example of the valuable learning opportunity that my reading had provided, it was clear that I could contribute much more to my children’s education and development than I had previously thought. This understanding was solidified after coming to work for IEW and finding out that even the learning needs of boisterous children can be adapted to for maximum success.

Half of Andrew Pudewa’s arguably most important presentation, “Nurturing Competent Communicators,” discusses the importance of reading out loud. The complete information in the presentation is so imperative that Andrew offers it as a free event at all of the workshops that IEW offers each year throughout the country. Also offering the material as both a free audio talk and an article entitled “One Myth and Two Truths,” Andrew teaches that by reading to our children, we give them the opportunity to be immersed in new language patterns while expanding their vocabulary, interests, and understanding. We gain the opportunity to discuss new words and ideas, to hone attentiveness, and even to form the habit of asking thoughtful questions!

This all sounds fantastic, but the roadblocks and difficulties (especially time-constraints) still remain. My answer to the question of how to proceed from the perspective of a husband, a father of six children in the home, and a full-time employee of IEW with various projects on the side is this: Pick a book and start with Chapter One. Just get started.

New to this idea? Fear not! First of all, IEW offers an engaging list of recommended books that might appeal to families at every stage in life. Going further, our Timeline of Classics is a chronological index of world literature to go along with particular studies and time period interests. Next, the “EZ+1” concept used in our writing programs applies here as well, perhaps trying to read together once a week and methodically increasing the frequency to a daily event. Starting out with family reading time will often naturally appeal to younger children, but challenges may arise with older students. If sitting down to read quality literature out loud together appears to forecast war clouds on the horizon from young adults, the audio-book option might just be the solution.,, and are excellent online resources. There’s also the opportunity for an outing to the local library (and maybe a meal together at a favorite restaurant on the way home). Listening during meals, cooking, driving, or other available times could greatly encourage the desired results.

Still having a hard time inspiring your students to gather around and listen? You can learn to discuss the literature that your students are already reading (for class or on their own) with the investment of Teaching the Classics. While you might not have time to read all of your student’s books yourself, the questions that this program teaches you to ask might just facilitate deeper conversation than you would have ever considered possible. It could also help you to inspire your children to make an “upgrade” from much of the mindless and degrading pop-culture oriented novels currently being thrust upon children and young adults. Learning that they can read more sophisticated language and that they can think about things on a deeper level might just create yearning within them for better content.

So, let us not become weary as we continue to cultivate wisdom and virtue in our students in and out of the classroom. While we may struggle with finding the time to commit to this practice of reading or listening together, using the “EZ+1” concept will always offer the chance to lay a solid foundation and keep building upwards. Time, fatigue, attitudes, and noisy action-figure battles may stand in our path, but the road to victory could be just one chapter away!


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