Remember the first time you held your baby? Remember the overwhelming realization of your responsibility for this life? If changing diapers and teaching baseball were all there is to parenting, we wouldn’t tremble. Feed, clothe, and shelter—no problem, but direct their moral development, set their heart toward God, this is a terrifying responsibility.
Yet, as God’s image-bearers, we are made for story, to live and learn and love the narration of life. And, this knowledge is a mighty tool in the hands of parents, a great aid in directing our children’s hearts, in shaping character. Character, of course, is not measurable on a scale at the pediatrician’s office. But what we read affects what we think, and what we think affects our hearts. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” “A child is made known by his actions.” We understand physical development, slow and steady from infancy to adulthood, but moral growth and development is not as easy to gauge.
I shared these thoughts at a national education conference two years ago in the closing plenary session. “Imagination,” I said, “is the faith builder we need to encourage in our children.”
“The influence of books on moral development” was my assigned topic, not exactly a small or simple assignment. And so, I put my research and opinions and thoughts into the context of a story – my own. I took a trip back to childhood and traced the invisible thread that had led me not only to God, but to wisdom for life learned in the pages of all the books I read while growing up.
I’m sharing all this with you because that talk, Vision for Children, the Role of Living Books on Moral Development, is now a video you can purchase from www.adelectableeducation.com. If you ever have doubts about encouraging reading in your home, whether any of the stories you tell have any lasting purpose, why you should bother to find the best books for your children, perhaps this message will strengthen your efforts. Our children need the eyes of their hearts opened, and books give them vision for life.
I have received so many notes from parents who heard this talk that had their own eyes open to the power of literature in their children’s lives, that I recorded the talk while sitting in my library. In this message, I share about the atmosphere of my own home, the stories that were told me and read to me, the impact of Mother Goose, my grandfather’s tales, the Bible, and the novels and biographies I inhaled as a growing child, that all fed my desire to read and engagement in books. I thought the Story Warren readers might also like to hear my story as well.
Featured image credit: Open up to imagination, by Ryan Hickox, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.