Reading good books is a key for learning for many homeschool families. There are many book lists that help us define what ‘good’ is – we try and keep away from twaddle (a word used by Charlotte Mason – read definition for twaddle here) As my children have grown older and become independent readers and learners I have given them each a book list for the year. (Read Joshua’s for 2012). But reading good books isn’t enough.
I give my children good books so they can learn from what they read and yet, if I don’t guide them through this process, they simply read the story and enjoy it for what it is… a good story. This is why reading good books isn’t enough.
We need to teach our children to learn from what they read, to interact with the ideas, ask questions and think about topics discussed in the books they read. When they do this they are learning.
Our children started learning to do this with our studies with Five in a Row as we discussed deeper various subjects. As they grew older and read more books independently they have been encouraged take notes with any questions or thoughts they may have, copy down any significant quotes or ideas, and to talk about what they are reading and learning.
It is important to talk to our kids about what they are reading because this is the only way we can gain an understanding of how they are processing the ideas they are reading about. As they talk you will hear their questions or you’ll hear their beliefs developing as they apply ideas from their book to their life. Once you hear these things you can take the opportunity to address things where necessary. Just because our children can learn independently (academically) does not mean they need to do it without our encouragement, direction and guidance.
So though I love a good story and I see the power in these good stories to teach my children – it will only happen if they interact with the ideas.