Thursday, April 4, 2013

Reading To Your Children

Today it occurred to me that God has revealed himself to us through literature! Of course, it is not the only way we have revelation of His nature and reality, but His Word is a very significant gift that He has given to us. How wonderful that He created us to love stories, because we are part of the true story that He has written since the beginning of time. We are each characters in the story of life, as God created it!

God Spoke into existence the whole of creation. The first chapters of Genesis tell us that each day God SPOKE and it came into being! How amazing that a spoken word is how we were formed.

Words are powerful. God created us to speak and to be spoken to as creatures who can build relationships and bonds with one another! God has a relationship with His creation whether you believe it or not. Man is the creature to whom he has reached out to with His word!

"In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God and the WORD was God." -  John 1:1

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."John 1:14 

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword"Hebrews 4:12 

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."Matt 4:4   

"Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28  

"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."Romans 10:17 

For many years I have held the conviction that one of the most effective methods of teaching is to read aloud to our children. There are scores of studies and books published on how incredible reading out loud to your children is. It is the most powerful and effective method for teaching kids to learn. They have to learn to sit still, imagine, think, listen and order their thoughts. 

Reading out loud also encourages our kids to hear good words and connect with good and bad characters. In a sense they build a connection, or a relationship with these characters! When you read a good story, don't you begin to feel connected with the characters? You feel like you know them, and for a few moments you believe they are REAL. 

Why is that?

I believe it is because God created us to connect with words and stories. We are each a character within the story of life! God gave us His word (The Bible) so that we could learn about him and relate with him. 

So what is my point?

First, that it is critical to read out loud! Read the Bible, but also read other great literature! There are miriads of classics to choose from. Don't settle for the new junk, read the classics (click here for amazing books lists). They are classics for a reason! Reading out loud is effective and it is obvious from some of the Bible verses above, that hearing the spoken word is very powerful indeed. That applies not only to scripture, but even other pieces of literature! Again, studies have proven the power of reading to your children,

Secondly, Reading stories helps to build the imagination towards virtue. God created us to hear stories! He created us to have an imagination as part of our foundation for walking in faith without seeing! 

"This faith comes from hearing the Word of God" according to Romans 10:17

"Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."
Hebrews 11:1

In the book titled Rallying the Really Human Things, Vigen Guroian asserts "The human imagination reaches out and seizes likenesses and analogies that establish relation and unity in a world of meaning. not an instinct but an attribute and and expression of our freedom, passion and reason." He goes on to say that "Imagination furnishes and supplies to religion and morality 'those larger ideas' and images which human beings need in order to envision an encompassing meaning and purpose for their lives." (pp. 53, 54)

In this book, Guroian argues that we all have been born with an imagination that has been bestowed upon us by our creator, Jesus Christ. The cultivation of our imaginations plays a critical role in our development of character, virtue, worldview and ultimately our faith. He attests that the development of a moral imagination is properly cultivated by reading fairytales and good literature to children. "Children want to explore just what it might be like to finally turn out 'whole' and all right, to be a good child, a good parent, or the best of rulers." 

For decades Guroian taught a college class called "Religion in Children's Literature". He discovered that most of his students had been depraved of the classics. "They were not introduced to most of the stories and books on the syllabus and their natural sense of wonder was starved." Books that he claims are "good for the soul. Books like Peter Pan, The Secret Garden, and The Wind in the Willows..." 

Cultivating this moral imagination is so important that if one does not purpose to cultivate it by the reading of great literary works and the speaking good words, one is in danger of the imagination becoming infested with corruptions and weeds. Where the correct food has not been fed to the imagination, starvation or rubbish will settle in, and the mind will fall away from virtue and truth. 

"What does the spirit eat? God's Word is the ultimate food of the spirit, but all words are food. Proverbs says they are a healing tree, a sword or a fire. Words have great power to nurture, to hurt, or to be like a medicinal balm upon the soul. We all speak many words every day, and billions of words over a lifetme. In this day of junk food of the spirit where trashy, vacuous, silly, and even obscene words are multiplying, we should be training ourselves to give life to the spirits of those around us through good words."- Barbara Mouser, Five Aspects of Woman; Lifegiver Created Lecture

Just as the spoken WORD of God brought us into being, so too does the spoken WORD of God sustain and create within us a healthy imagination. Not only should we read the Bible to our kids, but stories too! Reading stories will help to cultivate their imagination and stretch their minds to understand the reality of the human soul. It will help them to connect with the reality of Scripture and God's exstence. It will build their faith in a world that is real, but outside of our human capacity to "see". 

Let me close with this quote. "IMAGINE the possibility that a man might come along who does not die a permanent death but returns to life. One man did just this, and on the basis of his act and the church's memory of it, many succeeding generations of human beings have claimed the same truth for their own lives. The truth is not a postulate of pure reason, but it is an act of the religious imagination." 

Do you want your children to have an imagination that is so well cultivated, that they can have the faith of Hebrews 11:1, The faith in what we do not see? I implore you to devote yourself to the reading of great stories to your children.

1 comment:

Hearher Jane said...

Well said! Thanks for sharing!
Heather Jane