Reading the “Hard Stuff”

I love a good movie.

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Sisters reading together

My kids do, too. They love marathon nights of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or any super hero movie that they are allowed to watch (they think Iron Man is hilarious. I’m pretty sure it’s because of his ridiculously sarcastic sense of humor – which happens to be exactly like their dad’s.)

But this post isn’t about movies.

In today’s fast-paced world (complete with amazing special effects), sometimes it might

seem like plain old black-and-white books are downright boring.

But they aren’t.

Every few years I re-read one of my favorites – Wuthering Heights,

Tess of the d’Urbervilles or Tom Sawyer. A couple of years ago, on a whim, I read part of Tom Sawyer to them. They adored him (now whenever someone tattles in our house, they get called Sid), so we followed it up with Huckleberry Finn. I’ve realized that they aren’t big fans of Bible story books – they’d rather hear the real thing from the New International or the King James versions. So now I’ve started reading “hard” literature to my little kids. We read other great books out loud, too – The Trumpet of the Swan, Stuart Little, Heidi, Charlotte’s Web, and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (my all-time favorite.)

We all have a lot to do – life is busy. Life is hectic. Life is hard.

But let me encourage you to take a few nights this week to read aloud to your family – it doesn’t matter how old they are. A story – a real story can bring your family together like nothing else can. Even if you read something that you think might be too hard for them, they might surprise you – last year we read The Odyssey. I hesitated to even start it – after all, it was The Odyssey, for Pete’s sake. And my oldest kid was 8 then! Much to my surprise, they loved it – the heroes, the adventures, the monsters, the battles – and they understood a lot more of it than I thought they would. What they didn’t understand turned into a great learning experience as we figured it out together.

Last week we finished reading a book called Sounder that won the 1970

Newbery Award. It’s a 44-year-old, dusty old paperback that has few chapters and fewer pictures. And consider yourself forewarned: don’t read it if you’re looking for something light-hearted and funny. But wow, did it tell a story.

No, it’s not a feel-good book – not at all. But let me tell you, when you have three little girls sitting spellbound at the kitchen table and all four of you have to put your heads in your hands and cry… well, THAT, my friend, is the power of the written word.

Reading a great book together is a shared experience of the mind and of the heart. Maybe you won’t remember all of the characters’ names or your favorite quote, but one thing is for sure:

You will never forget the way it made you feel – and

neither will your children.

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