Just glancing at the cover of a book can draw you back to a moment in time and evoke strong feelings whether heartwarming or heartbreaking. My first memory of my mom reading aloud to me was the unfortunate summer that my siblings and I caught chicken pox. My poor mom was stuck inside most of the summer, caring for us and keeping us from passing the sickness to our friends. She picked up one of her childhood favorites—a Nancy Drew novel—and suddenly we were solving mysteries instead of wallowing in our pain. To this day, I still get warm, fuzzy feelings inside when I see those yellow and blue Nancy Drew hardback covers.
Now as a homeschool mom myself, I savor the chances I have to revisit my own childhood with my children, one page at a time, through favorite books. I count it a huge homeschool perk to share with my kids why a particular story is so special to me before we begin to unravel the adventure anew.
Bonding Through Books With Our Children: Looking Back and Looking Forward
What do we share with our kids about ourselves and about life when we share a book from our childhood? And what do we, as parents, gain along the way?
1. We Were Once Young
If you are prone to being a serious homeschool parent like I am, it is nice to let your kids see a different side of you through your childhood memories of favorite books. Most of the fun in our house happens with Daddy unless it is anything relating to books. When it comes to books, it's Mama’s time to shine. On trips to the library, my kids to see this normally serious mama light up with excitement at the sight of a picture book like Harold & The Purple Crayon.
Through books, I invite my children to meet the younger me. Curious kids are always eager to know more about their parents, and having a sense of family history has been tied to a sense of security and confidence in children. Sharing my favorite childhood books with my kids has been one of the best ways I know to gives my children a glimpse into my own childhood. They realize Mama was once a child just like them who loved to be silly.
2. We Are on a Well-paced Learning Journey
When I pull out my tattered copy of Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (in Grade 1 Readers) I explain to my kids that everyone has to start somewhere. There was a time before I learned to read that I couldn’t read this book either! But each day of life and homeschooling brings us closer to reading bigger stories and learning new things.
Sometimes I need the reminder that educating my kids isn’t something that is going to happen overnight, it is a long distance journey. My Antonia is one of my most treasured books from high school. When I catch a glimpse of it on my bookshelf, I anticipate with excitement that someday my kids will read it, too. But once upon a time, I couldn’t read it either! In a world that rushes our children forward in their education, I am thankful for the reminder that a gentle love of books in childhood translates to a lifetime love of learning in adulthood.
3. The Same Story Can Teach a Different Lesson
Reading Charlotte’s Web (in History / Bible / Literature B) in my 30’s with my oldest child approaching double digits had a completely different impact on me than it did when I was a child or even when I read it aloud to my oldest child for the first time as a homeschool mom.
As a child, my key memory of the story was heartbreak—how Wilbur feels when Charlotte dies. This most recent reading, however, I had a child very nearly in the same stage of childhood as Fern. Naturally, I couldn’t help but focus on Fern on the ferris wheel with a boy and Mrs. Arable’s wonder at how Fern had suddenly stopped daydreaming with the animals and was now interested in boys.
My daughter is a daydreamer, too, so I must confess I have spent years wishing she would snap out of her little world and enter our own. There I was listening to the story for the third time and wishing for a few more daydreaming years. As I revisited Charlotte's Web this most recent time, suddenly I was taking notes not from the young protagonist Fern, but from Mrs Arable, her mother! As I looked across the room, I made eye contact with my daydreamer. Her smile told me that she knew the mental notes I was taking.
A Homeschool Saturated in Family Memories with Books
The way Sonlight uses classic literature for learning means these bonding moments come naturally! Many of the books I read in high school with Sonlight are still sitting on my bookshelf just waiting to be shared with my children when when they get older. These moments centered on books are the conversations they will remember—the homeschool memories that will last the rest of their lives!