If you know me, you know I’m all about the classics, whether it’s literature or music. One thing I would like to impart to children, my own in particular, is a love of classic literature and classical music.
Why? I know it’s a bit odd. While in school, most kids despise the classics (even though many of us embrace them as adults). Classical music is famous for its snooty stereotype. I remember playing a Bach piano piece for my mamaw (yes, “mamaw”, ’cause I’m classy like that), only to have her ask me, “Do you know anything by the Oak Ridge Boys?” And I can’t count the times one of my students would ask, “Can’t we listen to country?” when I played the inevitable classical works as they entered my classroom.
The Classics Live Again
But I feel that the classics lift our spirits and enhance our minds – even if we may not realize it at the time. Along that line, I also feel it’s important to speak to children as we would to adults, not underestimating them. They may not always understand all our words, but they’ll comprehend from the context.
When my girls were little, I read plenty of “regular” books to them. But I also made sure to read some Beatrix Potter, with its lovely language. We also enjoyed Charlotte’s Web, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, and The Chronicles of Narnia.
In recent years, I have wanted to branch out a bit. Gene Stratton Porter was a famous Indiana author at the turn of the 20th century, and I chose her Girl of the Limberlost and Freckles to read to the girls one summer. The characters were so well-developed and the language so intriguing that the girls were drawn in and would always urge me to “keep reading!!”
About a year ago, I read an article about a mom who had read Tom Sawyer to her son at the bus stop. She was so enthusiastic about the experience that I knew Tom would be next on our list. The girls loved hearing about Tom and Huck’s adventures, and I found myself enjoying the book more than I had when I read it as a teen.
So, I encourage you to read a classic to your kids (if you have kids at home, even if they’re older), or just for yourself. Take it slow – just a few pages at a time will be enough to “hook” listeners.
- The classics endure because all the greatest truths have been written in fiction.
- We learn to think by encountering complex and divergent ideas, which are contained in classic literature.
- “The brain becomes baffled and takes learning to a higher level when challenged. We grow by making ourselves do what we can’t do yet.” – Michael Clay Thompson, educator
A house without books is like a room without windows – Horace Mann