loves books! Our printed curriculum engages and encourages students to be active
learners who exercise their curiosity and explore their interests. To help
everyone get a taste of Oak Meadow's power of print, we invite you to share our
love of books with 15% off all curriculum materials from February 1—14. Visit
Oak Meadow Bookstore
In the meantime, enjoy this article on the love of books from our newest
Can Classics Compete? Encouraging a strong relationship to literature at any
"A mind needs books like a sword needs a
George R.R. Martin, Game of
My sons used to devour books. Literally.
When they were little, looking at a book, touching a book, and eating a book all
had the same value. All were good ways to enjoy a book. Books were good, period.
I have loved reading my whole life, so you can imagine my delight when
four-year-old Riley raced up the stairs of the library, gleefully calling out,
"I'm hungry for books!" Three years later, his brother Liam (also four at the
time) begged for a trip to the library by insisting, "My mouth is watering for
books. My eyes need pictures."
We would come home with stacks of fantastic books, books with amazing artwork
and amazing stories. Books that I remember my mother reading to me when I was
little: Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, Blueberries for Sal,
The Little House, and The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray
Bridge. We also found new treasures: Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock,
The Quilt Maker's Gift, and Woody, Hazel and Little Pip. Their
eyes devoured the illustrations while their imaginations dove into each new
world. They picked up a rich vocabulary without realizing it, and developed a
sense of the rhythm and drama of the spoken word. Literature taught them
everything they needed to know about the world that was beyond their immediate
As they grew, our book selections branched out. I let them choose books they
liked—Riley devoured the Redwall books and Liam dove into Dinotopia—and
I added my childhood classics: James and the Giant Peach, Stuart Little, The
Enormous Egg, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. They
found their own treasures and we continued nightly read-alouds: Treasure
Island, Wind in the Willows, Pippi Longstocking—I was determined not to miss
a single one. Revisiting them was giving me an even greater appreciation for
them, and I was sure that my children would have a life-long love of reading
because of being exposed to such treasures young and often.
Pre-adolescence arrived and literary choices changed again, and not in a way I
was happy about. Novels gave way to the comic relief of Calvin and Hobbes,
Zits, and Foxtrot. Print books gave way to audio books (we did
spend a great deal of time in the car, so there was some sense in that), and
these soon fell by the wayside with the introduction of the first iPod. Screen
time slowly usurped reading time, and suddenly all their stories were being
watched instead of read. It baffled me. Why didn't they love to read as much as
I did? Would they ever really enjoy reading again?
Now that my boys are teens, I can't say that they will choose a book over a
movie, but I can start to see ways in which their early love of books and the
rich literary heritage they enjoyed has influenced them. Our bookshelves are
still crammed with classics both new and old, and we still enjoy reading aloud
together at night (the current selection is The Hobbit, again).
Acting is a natural extension of being able to hold a strong, nuanced character
or storyline in your head, and Liam loves to act. Riley has an incredible memory
for characters and complicated storylines from film and books. They'll talk
about plots and characters from favorite book series like Redwall,
Skullduggery Pleasant, Artemis Fowl, Leven Thumps, Lord of the Rings, and
Harry Potter in relation to movies and other books and, more importantly, in
relation to real life. Life is made more understandable when you can view it
through the lens of another teen facing challenges. When we see a movie
together, we discuss it in terms of plot, character, pacing, and tone, as well
as lighting, set design, historical setting, cinematography, and sound track. We
always come back to the story, the basic building block of any movie, and their
love of a good story goes way back. It is their human heritage. And that will
never fade away.
HOW TO HELP CLASSICS COMPETE
- Read classics aloud together. This never
- You can read great books and talk about
them. Even if your kids aren't reading them, discussing great books is a way
to share our literary heritage.
- Watch movies based on classics (you'd be
surprised how many modern stories follow a Shakespearean plotline) and
discuss them. Relate the storyline to shared experiences.
- Go to plays based on classic stories. Or go
to any play—the careful use of language in theater can bring a new awareness
to the art of storytelling.
- Keep great books in your home and share your
love of them.
DeeDee Hughes reads, rereads, and talks about,
books every day. In addition to being Content Manager at Oak Meadow, she also
writes and edits children's literature.