Something amazing happens when you share a great book with a child. You build more than just vocabulary or a general knowledge base. You build and strengthen a connection with your child through shared experience.
Reading truly great literature that truly moves you can be an intense emotional adventure. If you doubt me, think back to your childhood. What’s the first book that truly moved you? Was it “Where the Red Fern Grows?” like it was for me. Or possibly “Bridge to Terabithia” or even “Charlotte’s Web.” That spider is still one of my all time favorite characters through all great literature!
Whether enjoying a story for the first time or revisiting an old favorite, you feel the emotions and journey of the story together. You feel the joy of Wilbur being saved by Fern only to encounter the fear of losing him once he becomes an adult. No one has a dry eye in this house when Charlotte is left behind at the fair.
Building that Connection
Conversation about books you share is often organic and becomes natural. You may still use questions to reinforce big ideas or ensure comprehension, but your focus becomes on the story and the sheer joy of the reading experience. You find yourself asking questions like, “did you expect him to say that?” or admitting, “I never saw that coming!” You’ll laugh together, cry together, and read more together.
This connection built through books doesn’t leave when your children finish school either. Families that share stories often share them much longer than the grade school years last. My mother and I just co-read a historical fiction novel, “The German Girl” last week. We cleared the local library out of their large print and ebook editions. Books bridge generation gaps, distance, and time. Sharing that story means you always have something more to talk about and a good reason to connect.
Finding Great Books
Sonlight has already done the hard work. They have taken on the daunting task of sorting through millions of books and choosing quality literature that’s ideal for your child’s skill level and understanding. Grouped and sorted according to level, grade, and age, Sonlight’s books are picked because of their moral value, rich word usage, and thought provoking dialogue.
You don’t put down a Sonlight Story and walk away. The stories stay with you, mold you and inspire you. My children have yet to put down a book from Sonlight without it becoming a piece of their history.
- Thanks to “Owls in the Family” we check all fallen nests and always talk back to owls calling in the woods and in nature parks.
- When we stop at Dunkin Doughnuts after church, we reminisce and laugh about poor “Homer Price” and the endless doughnuts. Those giggles and smiles are imprinted forever on my heart!
Parent/child bonds and sibling bonds are strengthened through the experience of sharing a story. After sharing quality literature like that hand selected by Sonlight, you and your child will connect in several ways.
- You and your kids will have more to talk about and discuss.
- You will find it easier to relate to one another.
- You will have a shared experience that you will want to repeat.
Strengthening that Connection
Whether it’s a simple dinner together, sharing some candy while you read, or taking a stroll while you ponder the author’s choice of words. Taking the time to reflect on what you’ve read together can strengthen the experience.
Many experiences inspired by books are organic, such as recognizing an animal from the zoo, replaying a scene from the book, or using words and language from a book to describe a moment in real life.
- We’ve pressed flowers, built fires, and picked cherries as “The Boxcar Children.”
- We’ve celebrated because we recognized the famed rodent from “Capyboppy” at the zoo.
- We have traced our hands over every Braille sign on the playground and the local library thanks to having our awareness raised by sharing “Out of Darkness.”
Looking to Build Connections
Even when experiences don’t happen organically, strengthening the connection made through books doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming.
Pairing Books with Food
Some stories just ask for a food item, either homemade or purchased.
- “Homer Price“- doughnuts
- “My Father’s Dragon“- tangerines
- “Adventure with Waffles“- waffles
- “A Grain of Rice“- rice
- “Johnny Appleseed: The Story of a Legend“- apples
Pairing Books with Adventure
Others are better paired with field trips and small adventures. Alternatively when massively pregnant or otherwise deterred, we have sought these experiences through technology; documentaries and family friendly videos.
- “In Grandma’s Attic“- antique hunting
- “Dolphin Adventure” – aquarium
- “Henry Huggins“- dog show
- “Tut’s Mummy Lost & Found“- Egyptian collection at regional museum
- “James Herriot’s Treasury for Children“- working farm
Pairing Books with Interests
Still others inspire us to look at new interests or hobbies.
- “The Year of the Baby“- sock mouse
- “The Box Car Children“- pressed flowers
- “The Hundred Dresses“- fashion design and sewing
- “The Apple and the Arrow“- archery
- “Gooney Bird Greene“- storytelling
Taking it a Step Further
Beyond food and simple projects and field trips there are always ways to go even further. Here are just a few ideas: travel abroad together, enroll in ethnic cooking class as a family, or volunteer at a local wildlife rescue.
A few closer to home experiences that might prolong and enhance a good experience with a book include reading a sequel or watching a movie version of the book.
Movies such as “Dr. Dolittle” and Disney’s “Christopher Robin” were fabulous treats for our family. Having read the books, we looked for similar themes and familiar characters. Such great conversations erupted during and after the movies!
Our homeschool co-op group went to see a musical presentation of “Charlotte’s Web” and an unique LED lightwire presentation of “The Ugly Duckling.” What a pleasure it was to see my children engaging in conversation with other children and with their siblings and with me about the many similarities and differences between the books and movies and cultural variations of these stories! Thank you Sonlight!
Sometimes taking the experience to the next level doesn’t involve much extra effort at all. Sometimes just staying up a few more minutes for one more chapter or to savor those late night chats is all it takes. One of the best gifts homeschooling with Sonlight gives us is the chance to bond and connect through great stories!
Wishing you joy, peace, and most of all faith in your homeschool!