Sharing the Adventure

The most comforting, nostalgic, cozy memories from my childhood are of Mom reading aloud to us at night.  We would snuggle deep into our sheets, lay our heads on Mom’s shoulders, and listen.  Sometimes I would let my eyes follow along with the words of the story.  Sometimes I’d watch Mom’s face, and the expressions that crossed it, as she read.  Sometimes I’d stare up at the white ceiling.  It was like a blank canvas, freeing my eyes from any distractions, allowing my mind to paint the scenes of the story in my head.

 

As my sister and I grew older, this tradition grew from bedtime stories with just us and Mom, into reading with the whole family.  Every night, our whole family gathers in the living room, stretching out on couches or recliners.   My younger sisters get out their drawing, I pull out my embroidery or scrapbook supplies, and we all fall silent, waiting for Dad to begin.  From the moment he starts reading, we forget that we’re in the living room.  We forget that we’re in 21st century America.  Sometimes we even forget who we are.  We’re transported to another time and place, traveling together in our imaginations.  And when Dad closes the book at the end of the night, we girls will look at each other like we’ve just awakened from a dream.

 

My parents have spent countless hours of their lives reading to us.  Their voices have taken us all across the world – Switzerland, Colorado, New York, England, Middle-Earth, Narnia, Israel.  We’ve traveled across oceans, deserts, and prairies.  We’ve traveled through time.  I learned early on to squeal and jump up and down when Mom would pick up a book.  I knew that it was more than entertainment.  It was like hopping onto a time machine, pressing a button, and zipping off anywhere in the world that we wanted to go.

 

There’s something about reading aloud to others that is a completely different experience than reading alone.  You’re going on an adventure with others, inviting them to enjoy the suspense, the excitement, and the adventure with you.  It’s the difference between walking alone in the country, and walking with a friend.  You can point out things to one another, help each other discover points of beauty.  You’re creating memories together that will last for the rest of your lives.

 

In The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Edith Schaeffer explains the importance of reading aloud:

 

 “People ask, ‘What is your advice about bringing up children?  What did you do as a family?’  If there is any one thing I would stress as an answer it would be this: ‘I read aloud to the children, both individually and together.’  Reading together is one of the most important factors in a growing family relationship.”

 

Lots of families bemoan the fact that they can’t vacation as much as they would like.  Many people don’t have the money or opportunity to travel the world.  Why not go on trips around the world (or a world different from ours, like Narnia) with your family?  Make a habit of reading to your family every day, or as often as possible.

 

If you live alone, find someone who would appreciate it, and make it a point to read to them.  A close friend, a room-mate, grandparents, a cousin, a neighbor – everyone has someone who would enjoy going on an imagination journey with them.  If you have younger siblings, read to them (I read to my little sisters almost every day.  A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, and Milly Molly Mandy by Joyce Lancaster Brisley are our favorites.).  And if you find yourself in a situation where there are no friends or family around to enjoy a story with, don’t let that stop you.  Buy one of those small microphones, choose a story, and record yourself reading.  Save it on your computer and share it with others.  If you choose a book that’s public domain, you can even post your audio book online and invite anyone in the world to listen to it.  I’ve had so much fun with a home-made audio book of  Le Tour du Monde en 80 Jours.  I downloaded it from a free French audio book website; I’m sure that the narrator never would have guessed that an American girl would be listening to a book he read in French.  You never know who you could bless by recording yourself narrating a story.

 

If God blesses me with a family of my own in years to come, I cannot wait to continue this tradition with my children.  There are so many things that we could learn and discover together.  There are battles to be fought, mysteries to unravel, and friends to make within the pages of books.  And while I hope that my kids will love reading on their own, I will want to go on these adventures with them.  It’s one of the most meaningful, enduring, and enjoyable experiences that a person can share with someone they love.

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6 thoughts on “Sharing the Adventure

    • Thank you so much, Uncle Larry!! I truly appreciate it. Most of the advice I give, though, is taken from others who have way more experience and wisdom than I do! All I do is pass it on. 🙂

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