Who knows where this post is heading...just to warn you. I'll start by sharing the books we read last night. The boys and I read "In the Castle" which is a beautifully illustrated book about old England. This is a book they love to read and they pick it regularly. The swords, the king and queen, the jester, the knights, these vivid pictures capture their imagination. Of course they love the feasting page. One day they will be teenagers and we will be hard-pressed to feed them. Then we read "Goodnight Moon". One of my personal favorites. Elijah continued "reading" after we were done saying goodnight to everything.
After the boys went to bed, the girls and I read from two books. The first is "Helen's Temper and It's Consequences". This book was written in 1872. It's a sweet little book that packs a powerful punch. The book is about two sisters. One who is outwardly good. And the other who shows much kindness from her heart. The hysterical thing is that the two sisters in my house were DISCUSSING HEATEDLY last night about who was Helen (outwardly well behaved, but inwardly mean and spiteful) and who was Betty (younger without all the right answers, but kind and tender-hearted). Betty shows much kindness to a young cripple girl she meets. Helen on the other hand is mean and worried about what others think. Much to both their chagrin I pointed out to them that at times they are both like both. That seemed to settle the argument.
Some of the language in this book is old-fashioned...the little girl is called a maiden several times. And yet, I like it. Why? Because it's simple, but not shallow. In the chapter we read last night Betty shows her little crippled friend, Louisa how to be helpful. She teaches her to clean while her mother is away working. I LOVED THIS PART!!
We also read from one of Hannah's school books, "The House of Sixty Fathers" which is about a young boy in China whose family fled from the Japanese via a river. While his family was away working, the sampan he was on got loose and floated back down the river into enemy territory. He was all alone in enemy territory. Well, not exactly alone...he has a pig named Glory-of-the-Republic (who I renamed G-pig). The little boy's name is Tian Pao (well I got tired of trying to say that so I renamed him T.P.)
One section we read last night described him watching a group of obviously starving children from a bush (with G-pig). These children ate grass and one little boy, the smallest of the lot began to eat mud. TP realized that he had not seen an ox, goats or pigs. The enemy had taken all the food. He realized that his pig was in serious danger. But before fleeing, he snuck over to the little, mud-eating boy and gave him the last of his rice. And ran away. This section undid Clara. The thoughts of starving children were difficult for her. But, she stuck it out and we finished the 18 page chapter we were reading.
Now, of course we don't do that every night. (We started reading Helen's Temper at Thanksgiving and are on chapter four) The two nights before we watched American Idol and promptly sent them to bed!! This morning I was thinking about the importance of reading books to my children. It seems to settle them. The boys sit in my lap. It puts us all in the same room. Really, it is
comforting to me also.
While I've avoided making New Year's Resolutions this year, I would like to make sure we carve out time to read together more regularly.