12 Jun Why My Kids Are Going to be Reading a Lot More This Summer
I just told my kids that they’re going to be reading for an hour every day this summer. You would have thought that I told them they were going to be eating spinach and mushrooms for breakfast everyday instead of filling their minds with ideas and stories and inspiration.
After announcing this on Facebook, I discovered that lots of other moms are making their kids read, too. One of my friends told me that if someone told her she had to read for an hour everyday, she’d jump for joy!
There used to be this sign that hung in my oldest daughter’s kindergarten class. It went something like this:
Readers are Learners and Learners are Leaders
I think it’s funny how my kids already understand word association, even though they dislike actual words. Hence, their quick assumption that “learning” and “school” go together and somehow “reading” and “summer” don’t.
My dream has always been that I would raise up my own generation of lifelong learners, curious kids who couldn’t get enough of learning. Reading’s side effects go far beyond simply filling our minds with an accumulation of facts.
Have you ever finished a novel only to find yourself daydreaming about the characters long after you turned the last page? Me too! That’s because reading makes you:
- An empathetic friend.
- A deeper thinker.
- A better communicator.
Yes, yes, and yes to all of these!
I believe the stories we tell and the stories we read contribute to stronger, healthier communities.
A compelling story stays with us. It shapes who we become and influences how we interact with the world.
Before the advent of the written word, stories were passed down verbally generation to generation.
One of my favorites is a story I heard about the Moken tribe of Thailand (sea gypsies) just after the 2004 tsunami rocked Southeast Asia. They were saved because of a story that had been handed down around campfires for centuries.
It goes like this:
“The wave is created by the spirit of the sea. Before it comes, the sea recedes, the water comes and floods the earth and makes it clean again. The big wave had not eaten anyone in a long time, and it wanted to taste them again. “
Because the Mokens knew this story and had allowed it to engage their imaginations, they were able to recognize the deadly tsunami that would eventually claim the lives of so many of their mainland brethren.
Who would have thought that a simple story could actually be a literal life-saver?
This summer, keep your eyes and ears open for the stories.
Facts alone rarely move people to action. They simply can’t convey the meaning, heartbreak, or desperation of a compelling story.
If you know anything about childhood cancer, then the facts listed here certainly don’t come as a surprise:
- Every day, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer.
- There are 45,000 children in treatment annually.
- Just 4% of the NCI’s national cancer budget addresses childhood cancer.
- 2/3 of children treated for cancer will suffer long-term side effects.
- In the last 20 years, only three new drugs have been developed specifically to treat childhood cancers.
Are your eyes glazing over yet? I get it. I understand.
While the facts convey truth, they don’t give us any perspective about the individual kids we know and love. We are Forever We because we entered the story of precious Annara whose spunky personality is an inspiration not only to her family but also the doctors who are treating her. And Auvianna whose mother shared with us that she couldn’t see for months after eye surgery and how sad and mad she was that she had to spend so much time in the hospital. And Eden, who just wants to be finished with treatment forever so he can get back to being a super hero at home. These kids remind of us our own kids. Something in our hearts connects with the stories their parents tell, even if our own kids don’t have cancer.
We know that stories can save lives. So we’ll keep on telling them. We’ll keep on sharing them, in the hopes that you’ll read them, and that like the Moken, your imagination will be engaged. You will recognize when it’s time to stop fishing, gather your family, and run for your life. Maybe there’s a story that will help you save the life of someone else. Our prayer is that together we’ll become more empathetic friends, deeper thinkers, and better communicators.
In fact, let’s all pray for a story that ends with the words, “And they lived happily ever after.”
That’s why my kids are going to be reading this summer. It’s also why we want to read your stories. And why we want to share them, too.
What are you learning? What do you want us to know?
Please share in the comments below.