One of our central goals as a school is to inculcate a love of learning and a love of reading in our students. While we lack a magic formula to build a reader, we do have some helpful methods to instill a love of reading our children. The bottom line is that if parents value reading and prioritize it in our own lives, it is more likely that our children will too.
Below are helpful insights, with quotes from five accomplished literary voices.
- Read Books for Pleasure – Reading is one of the great human delights, and the “Charles Atlases of the reading world” rarely remember this. So says Alan Jacobs in his book, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. His point is that enjoyment of reading should take priority over the academic goals many have placed upon us. Instead of reading from the esoteric lists crafted by the academic elite, we should read books that we find enjoyable.
- Re-Read Favorite Books – Avoid the temptation to avoid previously-read books. As C.S. Lewis said, “The sure mark of an unliterary man is that he considers ‘I’ve read it already’ to be a conclusive argument against reading a work.” Just as young children never cease to tire of reading the same book over and over, adults too can re-read favorite books, learning new truths and reliving the same joyful reading experience again.
- Read to Cultivate Mind and Soul – We are formed and shaped in how we spend our time. With this in mind, make time for reading in your school, and choose books that you love (see #1) as well as those that will help you intellectually and spiritually. Mortimer Adler wrote, “In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”
- Build Your Home Library – Collecting favorite books and building a small – or large – library helps promote a love of reading. Some of my most cherished books in my personal library come from my childhood. Some are a bit threadbare, but that simply confirms loving usage. We’d all benefit from heeding the wisdom of Dr. Seuss: “Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” Christmas is a great opportunity to give books as gifts.
- Set a Reading Goal – As we look toward 2022, set a goal. Perhaps a book a month, or for the really auspicious, one a week. Research indicates that goal-setting – particularly when others are aware of your goal or share the same goal – increases the likelihood of hitting your target. Start somewhere. Mark Twain: “The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.”
You can find additional grammar and secondary level reading lists and resources on our website, including some Newbery Award books to read (as well as those to avoid). Every January I rank my top ten books from the previous year, so be looking for that in the next Providence Principles. Finally, please share your favorites with me – I always enjoy receiving recommendations from parents!