Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Buried Treasure - On the Importance of Reading to Children

While writing today's posts on Mister Dog and "The Wedding Date", I was inspired to suggest to five other bloggers a new variant of the 'book' tag that has been making the rounds of the blogosphere.

The notion is that reading to children is vitally important, that both the interaction with parents, and the stories themselves are formative. I found this about the author of my personal favorite story from childhood, which says the following:
I learned a lot from reading Margaret Wise Browns books. I learned that Tigers have dignity and that frogs go Jug-a-rum, Jug-a-rum. I learned how she understood the anxieties and insecurity that children experience and sought to address these fears in some of her writing.

Why are stories important? Especially why are the stories that we read to our children important?

Pragmatism, the philosophical perspective that influenced Lucy Sprague Mitchell and her student Margaret Wise Brown, holds that our minds, our personalities, are not inherent, but are emergent out of our social interactions. Of primary importance are the special relationships in our families, particularly our relationships with our children. These family relationships are the main social relationships that influence who our children will become.

In this way family relationships form the foundation of our moral character. Moral development grows out of these basic family relationships and extends into our larger society.

Why do we choose to support and nurture infants and children to the point at which they are capable of being independent? We raise the next generation because we want to. It is from this notion of choice, and how this decision is supported in society, that moral character gains its force, and its power.

Our societys morality is a collective product of how we conceptualize and raise each next generation. This theory is the property of ourselves and the decisions that we make as parents. It is owned by ordinary people going about their lives, not by philosophers. It is shaped by our collective culture, not by our sages. For these reasons it is crucial that we are actively involved in the cultural education of our children. We must live examined lives, conscious of the choices that we make and taking responsibility for our decisions and the consequences of our choices.

Stories are important. And the stories that we read to our children can be very important.
[...][bold face mine]
What was your favorite book during those important early years? What impact has that story had on your life? How can you relate that story to current events?

For me, it was Steven Harper's declaration of that he will not visit the spin machine - here is what you get, take it or leave it. Mr. Harper reminded me of Crispin's Crispian. Under all the layers laid down, this current event unearthed a buried treasure from my childhood - my old hero, the dog who owned himself.

Feel free to tag your fellow bloggers with this one. Let's see where it goes, and where it takes us.