DIY Parenting – Fall 2015
by Rachel Jankovic
It’s fall … time for hot chocolate
and a good book
One of the greatest delights that we enjoy in having our children in an academically rigorous classical Christian school is that they are very competent readers. They read quite a bit at school and for school, but it turns out that their appetite for reading very quickly becomes ravenous. After school, before bed, on weekends, and especially on breaks from school, I find myself with children who are casting about for things to read.
In our house, we have dealt with this in the most straight-forward of ways—by buying lots of books. Our library for children has grown as our readers have grown. I now have four of them. And four high-intensity readers can throw back a lot of books in a little time when they are in the mood.
One thing that has been especially delightful for me has been providing a library for them that has tons of “roughage.” They read a lot of wonderful literature in school, but at home I don’t mind if some of their reading is what might not be called great literature. We pad the shelves with series like the Hardy Boys, Redwall, Famous Five, Jungle Doctor, Happy Hollisters, and all kinds of books that probably will not go down as the greatest books ever written.
C.S. Lewis was a great example in this—someone who appreciated and loved the great works of literature, but found time to enjoy the far more simple and popular works.
My favorite thing about our vast scope of reading materials is that I find my own children recognize great writing. They’ll come to me with a book in hand and say, “Wow. This book is really good! She describes things so well!” When they have enough experience in their own reading, it turns out they can recognize a great work without any prompting.
■ Adventure series (Castle of Adventure, Ship of Adventure, Circus of Adventure, Valley of Adventure, etc.) | by Enid Blyton
My kids have all loved these and passed them around to friends. Basic adventure, lots of fun.
■ Redwall series | by Brian Jacques
This is a series that numbers in the 20s of books, so find out if your kid likes one before you buy them all! But if they do like them, you can count on hundreds of hours of reading about the battles and delicious foods of the mice, rats, badgers, snakes, etc. of Redwall.
■ The Five Children and It | by E. Nesbit
This is a great one (really all of E. Nesbit), and our kids read it aloud to each other laughing the whole time. A great mix of fantasy and humor. Perfect for all ages. E. Nesbit is a favorite around here, and if you are looking for a good read-aloud author, she is a great choice.
■ The Best Christmas Pageant Ever | by Barbara Robinson
We mostly listen to this one on audio, but it is brilliant. Funny, challenging, joyful, and just all around insightful. A great lesson for any would-be Alice Wendlekins out there.
■ Grandma’s Attic Series | by Arleta Richardson
I grew up on these, and love having them to share with my kids. Who can forget the “Pride Goeth Before the Fall” story about the hoop skirts at church? Classic.
■ The Chronicles of Narnia series (all of them) | by C.S. Lewis
Even though I grew up on these books I continue to learn more each time through. I like to keep Narnia in a constant rotation in our house. There is always more to get out of these books. The ideal read-aloud books—material that you want to know as well as your children do.
■ Leepike Ridge ■ Boys of Blur ■ 100 Cupboards series ■ Ashtown Burials series | by N.D. Wilson
We can’t get enough of Uncle Nate’s books around our house. I would love these books even if I didn’t know the author—adventure and fantasy that has a lot of moral meat on its bones. Truth, beauty, and goodness. Bravery and sacrifice. Lots of wonderful things to talk about all packed into thrilling stories that demand to be read.