I asked them once what their favorite part of school was. They agreed; being read books and playing.
And the funny thing is – the two are so connected. What they hear in stories they play. It is a continual encouragement and challenge for me to fill their minds with interesting and excellent ideas.
Right now they are in a world of play mixing up On the Banks of Plum Creek and Treasure Island, their current read alouds from myself and Paul.
They draw in elements from their audio stories and previously read books. A favorite audio book recently was Dr. DoLittle, and I hear traces of animals being incorporated into their play.
Bible characters often make an appearance – the other day while playing one boy called the other “a runt” and the other, hurt, asked why. The answer? “I can imagine Goliath called David that and I was just thinking about that story.”
Greek gods, fairy tale characters, founding fathers of America, pirates, earls, Kings, pioneers … all of these characters are becoming familiar friends as we sit cozy together reading and then they are given hours to play.
I have found that I can direct their interests in subtle ways. We stumbled upon a walled in garden once and I whispered with excitement, “This reminds me so much of The Secret Garden!”
“What is the secret garden?!” they asked.
“Oh, just a story.” I answered.
“But what is it ABOUT? It sounds interesting!”
“Just a story about a garden. And it’s a secret.”
“Will you read it to us?”
Over the next couple of weeks they asked a few more times for me to read this to them and when I finally did they were so enthralled with the story because a little hype had been built.
Other books that I think they might find daunting have been built up in this manner too.
“These little Lego men are about the size that Gulliver was when he landed amongst the land of giants. If these Lego men were real, how do you think they would feel sitting in your hand like this?” I randomly and casually offered one day.
“Who is Gulliver?” “What is the land of giants?” And thus began their love for Gulliver’s Travels.
Some of the books we have read have been extra special – The Odyssey (for kids) and Two Little Savages stretched us with their imagination and depth of content. The Secret World of Og was a delightfully silly story. We incorporated each of these into our own idea of what they would look like in a single image and have printed and hung them on our wall.
Odysseus, Cyclops, Ogs, and kids surviving in the woods are common play themes as they let their imaginations go wild.
My hope with making The Odyssey common and familiar to little children is that as they grow their fondness will grow and when they are presented with the entirety of the book to read it will be like coming back to an old friend.
Same with Shakespeare’s works – pleasant and brief acquaintances now will make for a happy and easy transition as they reacquaint themselves with old friends when they return to original works in middle school and high school.
I have been so encouraged by homeschool moms who are further along in their journey that have come alongside me and poured encouragement into me. “Read to your children,” they say. “The time passes so fast. Curl up on the couch together and read.”
And so I would pass on this encouragement; keep reading to your children. Keep pursuing good books. The written word is powerful, and as Charlotte Mason says; “Thought breeds thought.”
“Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education.” – Charlotte Mason