Read to Learn, Not Just for Story

Read daily, for love and for learning.

Read daily, for love and for learning.

I’ve always loved to read. My earliest memories involve wonderful, imaginative stories that enriched my life. The Little Red Hen, Johnny-Go-Round, Sendak’s Wild Things, Anderson’s fairy tales, the Bobbsey Twins and Happy Hollisters were all as much a part of my life as was the freeway traffic that flowed endlessly across the street from our home, the railroad at the end of the block, and the liquor store where I bought my weekly treat– a fudgesicle, or if I was feeling flush, a 10-cent Rocket Pop. Every day I’d pack my school bag with at least two books with which to stave off inevitable boredom. Trips to the library or my favorite thrift store were highlights of my week; I knew I’d come home with at least a few more books to cherish.

Perhaps I was an odd little kid, but even then I wasn’t reading only to find out what happened in the story. I read to discover new worlds, different lives, deeper meanings in everyday matters. Reading historical fiction such as Mary Jane by Dorothy Sterling, and biographies about women such as Prudence Crandall and Florence Nightingale aroused awareness that not everyone had the kind of life I lived. Through stories, both fiction and non-fiction, I learned that it’s essential to stand for what is right; to be brave when it’s easier to be passive; and to understand that every human was created with a heart and soul, and must be treated with kindness and respect.

Because I didn’t have brothers and sisters at home, I shared Amy, Meg, and Beth with Jo; adventured with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and traveled, played, and learned with the subjects of all the Landmark biographies. Because I had beloved pets, I wept over Black Beauty, Beautiful Joe, the Wahoo Bobcat, and all the other animal books I could find. During road trips through the western states, I devoured the work of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. They taught me to truly see and appreciate the vast, not-quite-empty spaces, mercurial skies, and distant horizons. Each book–even the easy reads and funny stories– expanded my small world in some way, and taught me the value of compassion, ingenuity, curiosity, persistence, integrity, diligence, humor, and imagination.

As parents, we can’t begin to teach our children everything they need to know, but we can teach them to read, and make sure they have plenty of good books. Stories have power to awaken the imagination, which is essential both for empathy and for creativity. Truths carried to the heart through the power of story wil linger far longer than anything that comes through a lecture or a worksheet. As you begin the new school year, make time for reading, and I promise, learning will happen.

5 Responses

  1. Karen Davis says:

    We are obviously “of an age” since I remember fondly many of the same book friends.

  2. Jimmie says:

    I read often as a child although my tastes were quite different from yours. At that time, I leaned more towards fantasy and sci fi.

    We didn’t have a lot of entertainment. We played outdoors, played with toys, created things, and READ. I sort of grieve that loss for my child. Today’s world is so different. So much more technology. So little nature and so few books.

  3. Jeannie says:

    Janice,

    Do you have or know where one could get a list of ‘must read books’ for our kids.

    Ever read Marguerite Henry——Misty of Chincoteague? Oh, where a good book will take you.

    Thanks for all you do.

    When I mentioned you at ‘Dynamic Learners.’ The guy spoke of you as a friend of theirs and his voice had one of much respect for you and what you do.

    Thanks,

    Jeannie

  4. Thank you, Jeannie! I love being able to share with others–I believe it’s why I’ve been given the time and resources that have allowed me to learn. It’s a blessing to meet others in the homeschool community who have created things to share– I’ve enjoyed encountering my Dynamic Literacy friends at the various homeschool conferences. Their vocabulary program, WordBuild, is really amazing.

    I loved the Marguerite Henry books, and vividly remember when my 4th grade teacher read Bright of Grand Canyon to us. To this day, I think it’s probably my favorite by Henry. Our teachers usually read us books that took place on our side of the country, so Brighty and Island of the Blue Dolphin and others were all a part of my childhood.

    Thank you for writing!

  1. March 30, 2017

    […] might also enjoy the posts Read to Learn, Not Just for Story and Reading for Fun is the Foundation of Literary […]

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