I began reading to them when they were nothing more that little bundled squirts. At one month old, I would lay them down each day after four on a blanket on the floor in a room in our house that gets the afternoon sun. Then I would lay down between them and, given that it was just them and me with no one in the house to make me self-conscience, I would read for at least an hour. I read picture book after picture book to them. I knew they could not yet focus fully on the pictures but I held them up just the same.
That time of day became a habit for us three. One that we fall into even today. Today I read classics to them in the afternoons around four. We are usually in that same room, although not all piled together on a blanket anymore. But it is still a time that we share stories together. These stories take their time to get to the point. There is no instant gratification involved. My kids have learned to enjoy the development of a story, regardless of the perhaps ponderous manner in which an author may take.
The stories teach them about good and evil, teach them about the past, mold them as people, and give them a chance to listen to the words of the great authors. Without re-tellings. Without interpretations. In their own words. We ‘listen’ to what the great authors who shaped our Western Civilization thought and how they interpreted the world they lived in.
And so each weekday afternoon, my children and I are transported back to past lives through the words of great authors. Yes, it technically is part of the school day, but it feels more like family time to me.