Monday, June 17, 2013

"I Love to Read!"

Recently Beezy was reading to me at bedtime, which is now part of our regular routine. When I said it was time to shut off the light, she said, "Aw, but I love to read!" I swear I heard angels singing. Actually, I felt a strange calm. A love of reading--this was always my goal. Not that she would begin to read at a certain age, or read at or above grade level, or be able to learn about things through reading, but that she would develop the enjoyment of reading for its own sake. In fact, according to Beezy, reading is now her favorite part of bedtime! I know all sorts of grown up people who can read but don't like to. They don't do it unless they have to, such as when they must study for a test, or maybe to read a text message or Facebook comment. "Reading" and "fun" never appear for them in the same sentence. That a child isn't reading fluently by the first grade--or by age 10--is no big deal. That a person never loves to read--this is tragic. Of epic, Shakespearean proportions.

In a recent conversation, Beezy said to me, "I didn't mean it literally." I wish I could remember what we were talking about. Here I have a child who just turned nine years old, who knows the difference between the literal and the figurative. Could she spell "literally" correctly or even read it? Most likely not. But she can express the understanding of the abstract concept of the word. She can use it correctly in a sentence. When her reading and writing skills catch up, look out!

There is so much pressure on homeschooling parents to meet the expectations of others--even of those who don't like to read. Even from those who have never read a word of Shakespeare, never written a poem, and couldn't spell Ophelia or define "codpiece" to save their lives. If that pressure is put on a child, the bud will never open into the beautiful flower of loving to learn, which translates into loving life and being a whole and joyful person, a radiant soul. Nipping that bud in the name of being at grade level is criminal. Insidious. That means evil. That means you won't hear the choirs of angels singing when your child proclaims, "I love to read!" As for me, I will save Ophelia.

That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do “dead men’s fingers” call them.
There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like a while they bore her up,
Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element. But long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.   --from "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare

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