Why We Read to Our Children


It’s autumn here in Colorado, my favorite time of the year. The changing of the leaves from green to yellow creates great anticipation in my heart for what is to come. The brisk, cool air invites me to stop, look, and listen. I start to imagine sitting with my kids on the couch; cuddling together with warm fuzzy blankets, lots of books, and a wood-burning fire in plain sight. 

“Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.” 
C.S. Lewis

This vision is one I aim to walk out as we settle into the autumn season. Some of our activities are soon winding down and I look ahead envisioning more space to connect with each other and reflect on what the Lord is saying and doing in our lives as we read together.

Although I can feel nostalgic during this time of year, as the weather gets cooler and we’re indoors more, there are more opportunities for me to intentionally choose to read to my kids. So it got me thinking about why we as parents love reading to our children…

We read to our children to give them the gift of a great story. Beautifully written stories have a powerful way of speaking to my kids that can give them a vision for seeing themselves making choices they want to make and a vision for how to avoid pitfalls. Story has a subversive way of allowing our children to think about choices and life trajectory without being overly direct. If our children can see how characters in a story perceive life, deal with difficulty or evil, make decisions and so on, maybe they can see how they too could be a pivotal part of God’s great story here and now. I’m remembering the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. This story in one that is easy to drop into in an instant while reading. We can easily imagine walking by Edmund’s side as he contemplates whether or not to follow the White Witch or to trust his siblings’ instinct to join forces with the Old Narnians who follow the great Aslan. One of my favorite scenes is when the witch is laying claim to Edmund after his treason. His future was uncertain…to everyone but Aslan.

“You have a traitor there, Aslan," said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he'd been through and after the talk he'd had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn't seem to matter what the Witch said.” 

“Fairytales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairytales tell children that dragons can be killed.”
G.K. Chesterton

We read to our children to give them a vision of their callings as Christ’s kingdom-bearers here and now. How can they play a part in defeating evil and bringing His life into the lives of those they encounter? When I drive my kids to church, a class, and activities, we pray…

“Lord, give us eyes to see what you are doing, ears to hear your voice, and a heart willing to obey you.”

I encourage each of them to ask themselves, How can I ‘see’ someone else today? Is there anyone new I can befriend? Does anyone need help? How can I be supportive and encouraging to someone who is learning the ropes of a new class for the first time?  Reading stories about kids who serve and help and extend mercy, and love others well, encourages our kids to do the same. 

 Click here to read more of this Storyformed post.