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For the Love of Books! Oak Meadow Shares a Story
February 3, 2014
 
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Oak Meadow 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 the Oak Meadow Bookstore today!
 
In the meantime, enjoy this article on the love of books from our newest issue of
Living Education.
 

 

 
 
 
Can Classics Compete? Encouraging a strong relationship to literature at any age
 
"A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone."
George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones
 
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 reach.
 
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
  1. Read classics aloud together. This never gets old.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
 
 

 
 

   
 

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