Read for Yourself

Read for Yourself

As the parents of a home educating family, perhaps the best thing you can do for your children’s academic advancement is to read for yourself, for your own enrichment. Always be adding to your store of wisdom and knowledge: study history, the Scriptures, your children’s learning styles and current events.

Don’t be too concerned about where you start. As C. S. Lewis said of English literature, any part of it eventually leads to the rest anyway. Jump in wherever you fancy and keep going as long as the interest level continues to motivate you. Read a wide variety of things: histories, novels, poetry (read it aloud!), essays, plays, biographies, short stories, theology, philosophy, science, etc. Be careful not to kill your love of learning by dragging yourself through stuff you hate. There is a skill in finding the line between self-discipline in studying what you know is valuable, even though you don’t enjoy it, and unprofitable self-torture.

Even so, you must read Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book. It is fantastic! Check out his list of the world’s greatest books that everybody should read. Another beauty, written by a Christian, is James W. Sire’s How to Read Slowly, for it focuses on how to read different kinds of books and how to determine their underlying world view.

A noble objective is to learn to feed yourself rather than be spoonfed pre-digested, pre-interpreted, watered-down, modern-language condensed versions of the old classics. Find a copy of C. S. Lewis’s book God in the Dock: Essays in Theology and Ethics and read the essay in it called “On the Reading of Old Books”. This is a wonderful essay about the value of old books, the original books, as opposed to modern ones “about” the old ones.

From Keystone Magazine
September 2002 , Vol. VIII No. 5
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