Monday, July 27, 2009

Reading with children is inspiring

My mother used to read me stories and I loved it.

One of the books we read was "De brief voor de koning" by Tonke Dragt (in English: "The Letter for the King"). Maybe, like no other children's book, this story has had a profound impact on my life. When a few years later I was able to read Dutch on my own I reread the book with even greater intensity.

What strikes me is this: The thrill of shared excitement and visual imagination is priceless. My mother would sometimes say, "OK, one more chapter and then you need to sleep". I knew that if we shared enough tension she might allow for another chapter. Thus, better than the excitement from the story itself was the sense of sharing something with my mother that we both felt - the joy from reading was profound, but even greater was knowing that we had the same feelings of anticipation and curiosity about what would happen around the next bend. Such was especially the case with this particular book, as I remember it.

What a great thrill, therefore, to invite my mother and father on a visit last week to watch the movie. An extra bonus was the language. "De brief voor de koning" is a Dutch movie with English subtitles.

Today, knowing how much it can mean to children when mom or dad reads with them I now enjoy this activity from the other side. Seeing the excitement and growing fantasy in my own children, good books and great literature seem to be an even greater blessing.

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