Friday, August 12, 2011

A Bouquet of Sharpened Pencils

Most of you ladies will know what it means to obtain a "bouquet of sharpened pencils." It is from the classic movie "You've Got Mail" with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. No I'm not in New York and I don't own a bookstore, because I'm NOT selling the 10 shelves worth of books that I've accumulated over the past 13 years. I am something completely different, I am a Home Educator. If I'm going to accumulate something it is going to be books. It has always been a dream of mine to own a bookstore, but used books for the people who don't have to have that new book smell, for people who know that the grubbier a book is the more adventurous it must be.

That is the case with the best books in our house. We have begun our nightly ritual of family reading and started with "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis. The first book is the older kids' choice and they usually pick a set and we give in. This book is worn out with a peeling binding that declares age, use and love. If you could see my set of "Anne of Green Gables" books, which are even worse you would know this is a book that is adored by me and I'm sure will be by my daughter. Do not even ask about our copies, yes I said copies, of Lord of the Rings trilogy, they are a mess. A major part of our day and of our home schooling adventure is about reading and that is reading aloud.

On my night stand is a book called The Read-Aloud Handbook, the publication I have was 1996. It is a fabulous read for anyone, especially those proclaiming to educate children or who want to make sure their children have a great start in life. Reading is the core of everything you do. You do not realize the gift you have and that is being bestowed upon children to read. You may think that is the real gift and all you have to do, but you are only fooling yourself.

I have been of the belief for years that children LOVE to be read to by an adult. This started for me with my kindergarten teacher Miss Robins.We would have reading time right after lunch, I believe it was to settles us down back into our day. This didn't happen for me again until 6th grade, where I was exposed to two of my favorite books, "The Phantom Tollbooth" and "From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." I still pull out these books every other year to read to my children and this is the year. These two teachers, my favorite and my least favorite, taught me that reading aloud was very important. They instilled in me a peace that comes with reading and the knowledge that when things are crazy in life to grab a book.

I've grabbed many books over the years, some have become like an old friend, while others are just an acquaintance that I met in the air port on my way to somewhere else. Both are nice, but it is the old friend that will help you through the hard times. It is the old friend that will become so ingrained in you that you quote her and she changes your life. You may not know it at when you read it at first, but she buries herself deep in your soul and just stays there waiting for you to realize who she is. This is how it was for me and how I desire it to be for my children.

Jackson already has a favorite author. He will read anything that was written by G.A. Henty. He will read the other books I assign to him, but Henty is his go to for fun, adventure and relaxation. Audrey hasn't found that for herself yet, but I'm sure with time it will come. We are going through the Little House on the Prairie series this year so who knows what will become of that. For the boys it is anything they can get their hands on, they love to be read to and know that it means cuddle time with mom.

If you haven't spent some time with a good book lately, or you haven't spent the time with a good book and your children, you are missing out on special memories that will last for generations. I've found that when I wanted to get in the groove of reading to my children that I needed to pick something that was as interesting to me as it was to them. We started with Winnie the Pooh when Jackson was still in utero and haven't stopped since.

So as the school year begins, I challenge you to find your favorite children's classic and read to your children. Even if it is just a chapter a night, it will be worth it.You may think the book will be boring to your teenagers, but I promise you they want this family time just as much as your younger children do. I know this requires that you turn off the television and plan for about an hour before bed time. This will be harder for some than it is for other, but it is certainly not impossible if it is important to you.

Make time for your children, make time for your family. I promise you it is something you will never regret, and neither will they.