Sonlight Read-Alouds give students a breadth and depth of knowledge—of world changers and famous stories, of poems and important events. This foundation of cultural literacy comes easily and pleasantly through reading and discussing great books. Reading great books also increases connection between parent and child which is another perk of the Sonlight lifestyle!
But here’s something else—both important and wonderful—that Sonlight Read-Alouds do for your children.
Sonlight books teach that mistakes are a part of life.
The Mistakes are Where the Growth Happens
This lesson shows up in most books. After all, a book without conflict would be a long (and possibly dull) description, not a story. And a perfect character isn't as endearing as one who has foibles. Just look at the very first principle from Pixar's Rules of Storytelling:
#1 You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
The mistakes are where the learning and maturation happen both for the character and the reader.
We could do this exercise for all the Sonlight History / Bible / Literature programs, but for the sake of brevity, let's consider a few of the Read-Alouds from Sonlight A. In this program you’ll find all these mistakes:
- An animal-loving boy getting an unusual pet that wasn’t well-suited to suburbia in Capyboppy.
- Children teasing an outsider in The Hundred Dresses.
- An adult treasure-hunter almost dying because of his impatience and hard-headedness in Dolphin Treasure.
- A king making a foolish agreement—which was okay, because the law itself was foolish—in A Grain of Rice.
- A lighthousekeeper making a bad choice, and the substitute keeper needing to make a better choice, in The Light at Tern Rock.
- Evil governments enforcing bad laws in Twenty and Ten.
This is a range of mistakes, from evil sin to unwitting miscalculation—mistakes made by children, by teens, by adults, by kings, and by governments.
And guess what? Mistakes are part of the human experience! Sometimes we willfully sin, and sometimes we mess up in a calculation. These failures, big and little, happen to us all.
We Learn from Mistakes
Research has demonstrated that biographies are beneficial for this very reason! It's the struggle of the character that teaches kids how to persevere. This truth is why we encourage a growth mindset with our kids, praising hard work—something in their control— versus being "smart"—something seemingly fixed and out of their control.
Maturity Means Persevering Despite Mistakes
We all make mistakes, but the key is what we do once we recognize the error or sin. Children who deal with perfectionism need extra help with this lesson because they have such a huge fear of being labeled as a failure.
Seeing characters in Read-Alouds who make mistakes and then overcome them gives perfectionists the understanding that mistakes are not a final condemnation. There is always grace to fix a mistake and learn from it, sometimes even rising gloriously from the mistake into a huge triumph.
And this is also where Sonlight books help you teach your children by portraying so many different ways to deal with a mistake. Using the earlier books as examples:
- Unwitting miscalculation? Do what you must to make it right. You might need to be creative in how you resolve the problem, but usually you can find a solution.
- Guilty of unkindness toward others? Ask forgiveness, change your behavior, and move towards better relationship.
- Caught up in a mistaken idea of what’s important? It’s never too late to change. You can do it now!
- When you disagree with a law, it’s okay to work to change it.
- Frustrated with the bad behavior of others? You have a choice in how to deal with that frustration. One of the better ways is to empathize with where they’re coming from.
- Dealing with oppression from an evil government? Civil disobedience is an excellent option, and has been happening back to the time of the birth of Moses (if not before).
You’ll make mistakes. Your children will make mistakes. You have the option to make things right and learn from mistakes, both your own and those of characters in books. Let your Read-Alouds guide your children into thinking about mistakes and how to recover from them.