by Annamarie Dewhurst: Academic Coordinator
HOW TO CREATE A CULTURE OF READING IN THE HOME
During our campus days at Trinity Classical School, we work hard to foster a culture of reading. Likewise, we encourage parents to be intentional in creating an atmosphere in their home that values high quality books and reading. Reading is a door into another world, but children can be hindered from discovering that door and fully engaging in the world of excellent books if image-based media (television, videos, computer, ipad, video games, etc) dominates their waking hours.
Unplug. Until children are reading fluently and love to read, TCS encourages you to exclude any type of flickering screen from your child’s daily routine. Once a child is a flourishing reader, still exercise caution and use image-based media very sparingly, preferably as a whole-family activity such as a family movie night rather than as a parenting tool. For more discussion on children and media, we recommend reading Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman and other books such as The Plug-In Drug by Marie Winn and Endangered Minds by Jane Healy.
Add quality literature. Once you have removed screen time from your child’s daily routine, replace that time with books. Not just any books, but high quality children’s literature. Become an expert in excellent children’s literature. Start with the TCS Reading List. You can learn as you go. There are also many other books and resources to help you, including Books Children Love by Elizabeth Wilson, For the Childrens’ Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay and Educating the Wholehearted Child by the Clarksons. Print out the 1000 Good Books List from www.classical-homeschooling.org. Use the list to track books you have read to your children or that they have read or to get ideas for your home library. It is especially helpful for younger children, when you can go through picture books five or ten a day.
Read daily. Aim to read to your children every day. Of course there will be days missed due to illness, travel or other circumstances. But if you aim for every day, the cumulative effect of 18 years of reading together and shared experiences will be a rich heritage for your children. Many fathers have rediscovered reading by having a book they read aloud to their children each night before bed. Mothers or whoever is home during the day should also keep a read aloud going if possible, separate from the evening readaloud. If you need inspiration, take a few minutes to read this article.
HOW TO BUILD A HOME LIBRARY
Show your children that you love books and they will love books, too. You can build a home library and also use your local library to choose quality books and feed your children’s minds with beautifully written books that will nourish their souls.
Books as gifts. Rather than buying toys as gifts, buy books for your children. Ask for books for gifts from grandparents or other relatives who would like gift ideas.
Books as souvenirs. When you travel on vacation or business, bring your children books instead of souvenir t-shirts. Seek out used book shops when you travel–many times they will have out of print treasures that are hard to find, especially at a reasonable price.
Library book sales. One of the best resources for building a home library inexpensively is library book sales. It takes some time to comb through the offerings, but many high quality and classic childrens’ books are being discarded and sold for a fraction of the cost of a new book. Familiarize yourself with quality childrens’ books before going or go with a friend who can help you select books.
- Houston Public Library Book Sale. Two sales each year: one in September and one in the Spring http://www.friendsofhpl.org/
Used books. Other good options are used book shops, used online book sellers, e-bay, and even thrift shops.
- Half Price Books. 9 Houston-area locations. http://www.hpb.com/stores/
Out-of-print books. Some of the best books are not being re-printed, though with the popularity of homeschooling and classical schooling, many previously out of print books are being reprinted. It is worth the time and effort to find out-of-print books for your children. When in doubt, buy older books. They tend to be well-written and with strong Christian moral grounding.
The local library. For some families, fostering a culture of reading in their home will mean weekly or even twice weekly trips to the library, checking out the quality books libraries still carry. Do not let your children bring “twaddle” home. Tell them they can choose from anything on a high quality reading list and they will have abundant choices. This will often involve requesting online to be transferred as many Houston libraries have a small selection of the best children’s literature.
- Harris county Public Library. 26 branches. Books can be requested online and delivered to any branch that you request. They will notify you by email that your book has arrived. Books may be renewed online for up to six weeks. www.hcpl.net
- Houston Public Library www.hpl.lib.tx.us