Read to Learn

To read books is one of the central aspects of learning in our family. We believe that reading books, good books, well chosen books, will facilitate a love of learning and in turn create a life-long learner with a well-rounded education.

I grew up with my mum telling me that books were my friends. This meant that I needed to look after them. But having a book as a friend is more than caring for it. As I read and reread many books the characters in those books become my friends – I am transported to their time and country, I experience their highs and lows, I learn their life’s lessons right along side of them. As their thoughts are revealed to me I have a little conversation here and there with them – I agree with them, I totally disagree with them. I question their choices and I celebrate their victories. It is as if a real friendship has been established and that character has influenced and affected my life.

You know you’ve read a good book when you
turn the last page
and feel a little as if you have lost a friend

~Paul Sweeney

It is this connection with the people in books that I want my children to make and as they do they too will be changed by reading such a good book, they will be learning from books. Connections can also be made with animals, places and situations.

Children make these connections with books from an early age as we read aloud picture books to them. They ask questions, they remember the detail, they make connections. I am sure we have all seen our children mimic stories that have become their favourites. As they get older they set up scenarios to re-enact with their toys. These children are learning.

We then start to teach our children to read for themselves. Actually their reading lessons began as soon as we began reading aloud to them. Reading to our children is the most significant thing we can do to enhance their learning experience. Eventually, and it will differ for each child, but eventually they will begin to read for themselves. As their confidence as a reader develops they will find themselves interacting and making connections with the stories that they are reading. This is the step we want them to take towards independent learning.

A great book should leave you with many experiences,
and slightly exhausted.
You should live several lives while reading it.

~William Styron (Amerian Writer)

Once my children are learning independently from the books they read I expect them to keep a balance in their reading between various subjects and interests such as, History (including Australian history), Science, Christian Reading, Literature/good books, and any other subject that we have decided as valid for this time in their life (eg World view, apologetics, economics, politics etc) They would also have books in keeping with their own particular interests, hobbies and pursuits. All of these books then present a balanced education.

Taking in Information
In our family, taking in information (learning) more often than not begins with a book. Often a book inspires a topic or clarifies a topic for us. This may not be the case in your family though. For simplicity sake I have written as reading is the starting point, but the practical application is that when ever we have an experience or an idea we begin our learning model.

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