Ever since I was little I have loved fiction books. Of any kind or genre. Non-fiction are much more of an effort, but fiction books for me have always been my good friends. I’d rather read it than see it. And don’t get me started on what is better, the book or the movie, because I have only read and seen 3 that could even be comparable: BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Harry Potter.
All that being said, I’m not an avid fan of reading stories to my kids. It’s something I’m trying to change. I think for me, there are two significant drawbacks. The first being, I’m a horrible reader out loud. I can remember my absolute fear of being called on in 5th grade to read out loud. My eyes and mind were always a sentence ahead of my mouth. So, even with my forgiving children who don’t know that I’m a horrible narrator of stories, I still get caught up in the disconnect between my mouth and mind. The second would be interruption. There are questions of why and what and who and do we have to sit still? Sometimes I give up reading long before I planned because I could no longer deal with the inquisition.
But, in my most recent attempt to read to them, I found a series that I don’t think I will mind so much the interruption. Because my own mind is questioning and pondering the hardness of life from past generations. Because we are reading “The Little House in the Big Woods”. It has my children and I fascinated over the work, discipline, honesty, and hardness that living on the land was. We stop and talk about butchering a pig because there is no grocery store to go to. And how you eat or use all of it. My husband and I discuss how satisfying a day’s work must have been, to come home with dinner over your shoulder, having built your own house. And we laugh at how insane I’d be without another person in a day’s ride (by horse at that) to talk to. I love watching the kids’ eyes get wide (especially my 5-year-old son, Isaac) when there’s a bear trying to get the pig. Or when my daughter understands that one of their toys is a pig’s bladder blown into a ball to play with. Or seeing that a bunch of bee stings were treated with a mud plaster. While we fly around in our days of busy-ness and convenience, having them hear and see in their minds how life was is a great lesson for them. How family was all you had. Obeying your parents could mean life or death…as in a bear could eat you. Simple pleasures of stories or songs made the winter nights cozy. How nothing, not even time, was wasted.
I want to have that in our present day and age. I am like many of us, a product of our time. There’s work time, play time and time to waste in front of t.v or movies or video games or computers. I catch myself “browsing” online when I could be so much more productive in areas that are long-lasting. I just think it consumes so much of us, so much of me. I want my kids to know how to live simply. To work hard. To not give up even when there is 6 feet of snow at your door and you need to milk the cow. I want to know how to live simply. More than that, I want to model it for them. Maybe not in the “churn your own butter and cheese” kinda way, but somehow blending the lessons of the past into the demands of our own time to slow things down. I haven’t’ figured it out how yet, but perhaps books of this caliber, read to my kids by me, will provoke some wonderful opportunities to learn. Because by their questioning, they are teaching me.