feet curled under you,
eyes dancing over those
all absorbing lines
of a book.
There is nothing
in the whole world
Movies, radio, and television cannot take the place of crisp, white paper, and words. Words that lie before you, expecting you to discover and uncover, to delight in and imagine what the author buried in the lyrical sands of time.
You have been pulled into a distant place, a world of your own! You feel dreamy, hopeful, numb, chilled, elated, defeated, merry, angry, stifled, daring, gentle, humored, tearful, and skillful all in one afternoon. Whenever I finish a good book I suddenly realize it is as if I have come to know a new friend. I am looking, with fresh eyes, at words strung together forming a work of art. (think- pearl necklace.)
Today, I want to introduce you to a work of art written by Gladys Hunt, who loves books.... need I say more?
The book, Honey for a Child's Heart, is written for families, mothers, fathers, boys, girls, children, and babies. Why?
It is about the importance of books. What they do for you; soul and body and how they affect families.
I loved it. Mrs. Hunt put in words what I have thought a thousand times. She has made a memorial of why christians and books should be always entwined. She has written it all with a perspective that the Bible is the most important book. All books should be read with an understanding that the guidebook is The Book of Books. The "Honey" in her book is the Word of God.
This book influenced me before I could even read.
Mama read Honey for a Child's Heart when I was a toddler and she understood fully why she loved reading aloud to me.
In her preface, Mrs. Hunt has written these words:
"Books are like people: fascinating, inspiring, thought-provoking, some laugh, some meditate, others ache with old age, but still have wisdom; some are disease-ridden, some deceitful; but others are a delight to behold, and many travel to foreign lands; some cry, some teach, others are lots of fun, they are excellent companions, and they have individuality--Books are friends. What person has too many friends?"
In the first chapter Mrs. Hunt says,
"A good book is a magic gateway into a wider world of wonder, beauty, delight, and adventure. Books are experiences that make us grow, that add something to our inner stature. Children and books go together in a special way. I can't imagine any pleasure greater than bringing to the uncluttered, supple mind of a child the delight of knowing God and the many rich things He has given us to enjoy. This is every parent's privilege, and books are his keenest tools. Children don't stumble onto good books by themselves, they must be introduced to the wonder of words put together in
such a way that they spin out pure joy and magic.......
What I am saying is simply this: As Christian parents we are
concerned about building whole people-- people who are alive; emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. The instruction to "....train up a child in the way he should go...." encompasses so much more than teaching him the facts of the Gospel. It is to train the child's character, give him high ideals and to encourage integrity. It is to provide largeness of thought, creative thinking, imaginative wondering-- an adequate view of God and His world. He can never really appreciate the finest without personal redemption. But many a redeemed person lives in a small, insecure world because he has never walked with God into the larger place which is His domain. We have books and The Book at our disposal to use wisely for God's glory."
Later, she explains that reading aloud is one of the most important things you can do for your family.
"If families don't read books together, how do they know each other's
friends? That's exactly how we feel about it. Reading aloud as a family has bound us together, as sharing an adventure always does. We do know the same people. We have gone through emotional crises together as we felt anger, sadness, fear, gladness, and tenderness in the world of the book we were reading. Something happens to us which is better experienced than described-- a kind of enlarging of heart-- when we encounter passages full of grand language and nobility of thought...At the age of seventy, Laurence Housman writes about the contribution
reading made in his family in The Unexpected Years: "These family readings formed so satisfying a bond between older and younger that I can hardly think of family life without it; and I marvel when I hear of families in whose upbringing
it has had no place."
I have felt this joy, a joy, as Mrs. Hunt says, that must be experienced rather than described. We have read together; hanging around the table in our kitchen, breathlessly listening from the couches of our family room or even squished in the car on our vacations- leaning forward to catch each word. There are smiles and wiggles of delight when yet, another book is pulled from the special spot we keep the "read-alouds". I do not know how many times I have said or heard, "Please. just one more chapter?"
After we have shared stories there is a common bond in our minds surrounding the books we have enjoyed together. Whenever I see The Robber's Cave lying quietly on the shelf; a sudden image fills my mind's eye and I see my family and I, bending over the pages; living the adventure and learning together through this excellent novel. This is what family reading time is all about, learning about each other and the Lord throughout the books and each of the characters along the way.
This is not only accomplished by the parents of a family, but by any of the family members. I read aloud to Lizzie, Bella, Louisa and Katherine regularly. By regularly I mean that I read when I have time. This does not mean that I have a set time to read aloud, it means that when I happen to pass a book shelf and have nothing to finish at the moment I call, "Who wants to hear a story?" or "Come and hear about Winnie the Pooh!" or "Ah, now this is a wonderful story about a rabbit named Peter-one of my favorites. Do you want me to read it to you?" I rarely have put the book away unread. At least two children will be snuggled up next to me,chattering between page turns and asking truly relevent questions.
These are some of our best "sissy" one-on-one times; the green couch in our family room has been a cushioned host to enumerable readings and explainations of some pretty hilarious subjects. In turn, it is exciting to see Lizzie, who is stumbling through hard words herself, reading to the younger girls with zeal unequaled. Sometimes, while cooking in the kitchen, I will overhear these readings and will be laughing at the innocent comments raised and enjoyment of all involved.
Mrs. Hunt says,
"Characters seem more real when a story is read with some gift of expression. Maybe it is because a whole family is identifying with the characters and this strengthens the bonds one feels...I have mentioned two of the by-products of reading aloud: family closeness because of a shared experience and the bond of appreciation of good writing. The third factor has been alluded to: the opportunity of teaching what is true and good.
Cruelty, evil, and greed come into clear focus against kindness, truth, and honor in a well-written story.
The best teaching we have done in our family has been through reading the Bible and good books aloud together. It is really not such a profound concept. How would you best be enlightened to some truth- by being told that it was wrong to be nasty and thoughtless to others, or to meet and come to love some character in a story and then feel her hurts when someone is unkind and says cruel things? We sometimes talk about the characters we meet in our stories and about the motivation behind their deeds. We discuss worthy ideas and try to hang important concepts into a larger framework of truth. The Christian parent who uses both The Book and books has a distinct advantage. The Bible spells out the precepts, the teaching of God's plan for man. It also tells us about real people-- their faith, their sins, their courage, their disbelief-- and we see the fruit of each in what follows in their lives. Good books fulfill our human need for adventure and wider experience, but they also provide support for the kind of character development of which the Scriptures speak. Again , I recall a quote by Paul Hazard: " I like books that set in action truths worthy of lasting forever, and of inspiring one's whole inner life." What a pleasure to share that kind of book with a child!"
Here are some books we love to read aloud again and again. What books have you enjoyed reading with your family? Please, please I want to know!!!
The Bible- This is one we read Everyday!
The following are some secular books that have morals woven in them:
A. A. Milne Books ( Pooh and Piglet)
Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit)
Little Bear Series
Here is a list of some of our favorite God-honoring stories:
Christian Mother Goose
Shipwrecked but not Lost- Hon. Mrs. Dundas