Reading has fallen off my rotation for most of this summer. Even my beloved fiction books have just not made it into my hands. I suppose it’s a sign of the busyness at hand. Lately my prime reading time which is after the kids are in bed has been consumed with school preps and any reading necessary for it. Learning nouns, adverbs, adjectives and other forms of grammar neglected in my own education is remarkably….boring. Still, I’m in the process of reclaiming my education and showing to my children that learning it right the first time with a brain like a sponge sure beats trying to learn it now when my brain is like a piece of swiss cheese!
But, with much of my additional school preps settling down, I was looking for some really good fiction to sink my teeth into. I am a judger of book covers, so I typically just pick my fiction from meandering through the library. Or, occasionally, on recommendation from a friend. You can imagine the 50/50 results I can get by going this route. So, by looking through the Classical Conversations catalog, I noticed that the high schoolers are required to read many fiction classics and award winners. Of course, many I have never read as a child or as an adult. So, starting with some of those, and then browsing the wall of Newberry winners at my local Barnes and Nobles, I got a good photo index of about 15 books that seem, well, substantial fiction. Then I went to my local library, because I’m not buying them, at least not yet. My first goal is to read and enjoy them for myself but with three kids I’m already thinking of which ones might be some assigned reading for my eldest or which ones might capture the imaginations of my younger boys if I read them out loud. But the challenge is to look at it all with an educators mind to help my kids see the antagonist, the protagonist (are they who you thought they’d be)? Being able to draw out the vices or virtues that make them. To discuss these, to have conversations about choices made and the consequences faced in them. Because much of our make-believe is really an echo of the fact that we are in the image of our God, who has created us and history and continues to orchestrate the details of His great Story of redemption. And we all have a part to play.
“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien