The Gift of Stories

I love stories.

I still remember the thrill of staring at the library bookshelf and searching for the very biggest, fattest book to read.  The biggest I found was a huge and quite hideous orange book full of short stories.  I read them all.

Mom used to gather us around her on summer afternoons for stories as she sat in her wooden rocker, reading to all six of us.  Bridge To Terabithia was a favorite, and I can still remember listening to her voice as the sad story unfolded.

Childhood memories of long afternoons with my nose in a book still make me smile.

As an adult I helped found a charter school and one of my roles was to choose the books for the school library.  I thought I’d died and gone to heaven as I carefully selected, then stamped and stickered each beautiful storybook.

Stories have been a huge part of my life.  The characters in those pages have inspired me.  Stories have taught me what kind of person I want to be; they’ve allowed me to escape when life felt hard; and they’ve helped me solve problems and keep at it when I had a challenge to overcome.

Giving Your Children The Gift of Stories

There are so very many things I want to GIFT to my children, and a love of stories is high on my list.  My kids don’t naturally love reading the way I did as a child, but I’m always parenting with the intention of giving them this gift.  I’ve been thinking lately of how I can do this even better.  Here are a few ideas that have been floating through my noggin’.

Weekly Trip To The Library

We did this a lot when my kiddos were little, but as the big kids have drifted into high school and gotten busier, we miss weeks all too often.  I love the library and its cozy stacks of books and storybook quotes on the walls.  We need to go more often.  I miss the fun library games we played too.

A Book for Every Occasion

Christmas.  Birthdays.  Easter.  Just because.  I am going to make books an actual gift more often.  I’ll wrap one up in pretty paper and leave it on my daughter’s bed for her to find.  Perhaps I’ll tuck one into my son’s train basket for him to find.  I will write a little note on a bookmark and stick it inside for my teens to find.

Putting Books In Their Hands

I’ll start our school year by surprising my each of my kids with their very own personal book bag full of cool books to discover and enjoy, just right for their age.  This feels better than the required reading list I wrote in their planners last year.  (I’m a list maker, so the list might still be there, but the BOOKS get to really become the list.)

Reading Out Loud, No Matter How Big They Get

I used to consistently read out loud to my kids every night just for fun before bed.  As they’ve grown up I leave more and more of the reading to them, but I miss those days of curling up on the couch with blankets and books in our jammies before bed.  I still love being read to and I’m in my thirties, so I’m pretty sure my kids aren’t too big either.  {Here are our Top 20 Favorite Read-Alouds!}

Books in Every Room

I want to keep books everywhere.  Even the bathroom.  When we built our house I had my husband build a big bookshelf in our office, and I love it.  But with all the books in the office they aren’t filling all the rooms of our house anymore.  I am going to spread some book love around a bit more and set some good reads on the coffee table, on some nightstands, and in the bathrooms.

Chat About Books

I’m going to ask my kids what they’re reading, not in a homeschool-mom-teacherish-grading you sort of way.  Just in a “Hey, I’m interested in you and everything you’re into sort of way.”  Over dinner we’ll chat books and characters right along with other things that are interesting them.  Hopefully we’ll compare stories we’ve read to stories in the news and people we know to characters in books.  I’m going to make a greater point of connecting what we’re reading to our everyday lives.

Let It Just Be For Fun

Because my mind is always in homeschool mode, I spend way too much time turning books into assignments.  They are a big part of our homeschool, but I think I need to tip the scale a bit and let more of our reading be just for fun.  Even though I know my kids are capable of turning in beautifully typed book reviews and proof-read posters and tri-fold dioramas detailing characters, plot, and setting, I also need to just let the fun of reading the story be enough sometimes.

More From Layers of Learning

I can’t leave my homeschool mom role completely behind though, so when we do need to teach about stories, I like to have lots of ideas for keeping our assignments interesting and personalized.  Here’s my basic approach to teaching reading.  Also, go visit our Writer’s Workshop page and our Bookworms page to see a lot of the interesting ways we use stories in our homeschool.  And every one of our Layers of Learning units has a library list and fun writer’s workshop ideas too.

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