October 12, 2004

Using Books to Express What Words Can Not

As we are a household of readers I frequently find myself using books that we have read to teach lessons or illustrate a point or sometimes just to break a mood. Sometimes I will read the book and other times I will just need to say a line from the book to bring the story to the kids minds.

Today was a perfect example of this. Rhiannon came home from coop in a very bad mood. She left in a good mood excited to go and came home very moody. When I tried to talk to her about what was the matter she just got more exasperated and extreme. I tried to have her blog about the day and it was a very negative blog. She was saying that she disliked or hated everything. The way she was talking and the words she used to brought the book immediately to mind. As all my attempts to get her to talk about it were failing I decided to use a different strategy.

I asked her if she wanted to move to Australia? She immediately got the reference and smiled, nodded and cracked up laughing and said "Yes!" It was the ice breaker we needed and everything improved after that. We were able to talk about how some days are hard or feel like everything is going wrong and we feel like moving to Australia . She was able to smile and get out some of her emotions because of a favorite book we have read over and over again and have as a common reference point. It was a very special moment that I will treasure. Tonight before she went to bed we read that story together and I could see that it helped her deal with her emotions. Her prayers this evening confirmed it as she prayed that tomorrow would be a better day and that God would help her attitude and temper.

Some days kids just get in a funk and it seems that no matter what we do we are not helping. Every once in awhile a creative curve ball can help the situation. Having many common reference points can help with that. One of the advantages we have to homeschooling and spending so much time reading together is that we have these common references and quality children's story books help give children voice to their experiences and emotions in a completely different and powerful way than just words can do sometimes.

Next time you are rereading "Marvin K Mooney Will You Please Go Now" or "I'll Love You Forever" or "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Rotten Day" for the HUNDREDTH time and you want to throw the book at the wall, remember the reasons you are reading together and remember the benefits that come from rereading the same stories over and over again. Of course I need to remind myself this when I read and reread and reread every book published on frogs!


1 comment:

  1. Yes, yes, yes!!! The key is... parents have to spend enough time with their children to make those touchstones, those connections. Otherwise they end up staring at a child in a funk and thinking for certain the child is trying to drive them to madness.

    I love reading your blog. I hope one day life takes us to MN for a bit. I'd love to get lost in Mpls again, stand over the river in St. Paul, and have a picnic w/ you and all the children in one of the gorgeous parks!

    You are such an uplifting blessing.