Home Education Magazine
November-December 2001 - Articles and Columns
The Love of Reading - Cay Gibson
The books around my house beckon me throughout my busy day. They call me to rest awhile and explore their foreign lands and dreams. I get a tingly feeling at the thought of being able to call it a day and prop myself in bed at night with a good book. Books are truly a homeschooling mom's best friends.
There are homeschooling mothers who argue they can't find the time for reading. Society has entrusted us with a sense of guilt that if you sit down to read, you are not doing what is expected of you as a stay-at-home mother. You are being lazy, non-productive. Aren't you supposed to be teaching your children, mopping the floor, fixing supper, driving to soccer practice?
A homeschooling mother shared a quote her mother used when asked how she could find time to read when there was so much housework to be done: "I don't know how I find time to do housework when there are so many good books to read."
This is not to condone reading all day long and letting the house, husband, and homeschooling suffer. We have committed ourselves to this work and it must be done as we would do any other job entrusted to us. But everyone is entitled to a coffee break. Reading is an escape from the daily grind and pressure of chores and stresses. A homeschooling mother said that, out of necessity, reading was very important to her. In moments when she needed treasured solitude, reading nurtured her interior life and allowed her the time to recharge her homeschooling/mothering spirit.
Reading can enhance our interior life and make it more fruitful if we are willing to look at it as an opportune benefit to our day instead of a guilty conscience that we are being lazy. Reading may be regarded as laziness to people who consider it to be a boring pastime. For book lovers, it is more than a pastime. It is a necessity of life, a lifestyle choice, an ingrained part of life.
Reading is a lifestyle choice for me. Call it laziness, call it over-indulgence, call it boring. I was born a bookworm and have passed this trait on to my oldest daughter. I love a good book. I can spend hours in a bookstore. As a child, my excuse for reading was that I was going to be a writer someday. Homeschooling has been an added plus and allowed me to feed this hunger with the grand excuse that I am constantly educating myself. My husband often looks around and says; "Don't you have enough books to read?" He is convinced that if our house ever catches on fire, it will be a fueled inferno because of my book collection. Truth be told, buying books can become an expensive hobby, as all homeschooling moms know. But education cannot be labeled with a price tag.
Homeschooling offers us a supreme excuse for reading. We tell our children to read, read, read. With the crisis in our public educational system, schools have adopted a "Drop Everything and Read" theme into their days. Television has taken up the cry to read, read, read with their literacy campaigns. Childhood experts say read to your young child. We, as a society, are encouraged to read. Our best excuse in taking moments throughout our day to read is that reading is indeed working.
A dance group in my hometown recently traveled to England and Ireland. The local newspaper wrote that the one thing the young dancers were struck with the most was everywhere they went people were reading. On subways, on buses, at parks, all around the city of London. Why don't we see this in America? It is what the culture does that predicts what is important. If we want our children to deem reading important, we cannot view it as being lazy.
I am well aware that some children learn well through books and others don't. Though my own children see me reading on a daily basis, I have only one who thrives on reading. It comes naturally to her, she devours books easily, and she is an excellent student because of it. Then there is the one who would rather hunt and fish than sit with a book. This is not wrong in itself; many boys are this way. I like to think that if a crisis hits our area, he will be the one to survive while we all perish with our books. I give him credit for being a dedicated, hard worker, but for the sake of educating the mind, it is important to find a book or author who appeals to this type child. The favorite book for my hunter/fisherman is Robinson Crusoe. It is about a man living on a deserted island and, the only reason I see in his love of the book, he probably envisions himself in this lifestyle. As he is reading it for a second time, I see that he has realized the enjoyment of a good book.
Where reading is welcome, a nurturing quality settles over the homeschooling house. For housewives, especially those with large families, it is sometimes the only means of solitude and relaxation. Books are important in educating us, in taking us to places we could not otherwise have traveled, and in allowing us to refresh our minds.
The guilt still settles at times when I grab a few minutes during the day to plop down and read. Then my inner voice insists that if I'm encouraging my children to read as nourishment for their minds, I'm entitled to do the same. Do yourself a favor. Free yourself each day from all other callings and take an hour reading time with your children. The love of education comes with the love of reading. As homeschoolers, we can read all we want and excuse it as homeschooling. Such a luxury! Such a blessing!
(c) 2001 Cay Gibson
November-December 2001 - Articles and Columns
HEM General Information
Subscribe to HEM