There was a time when a man spoke very impatiently to my father. He had seen a copy of the Iliad lying on the table. “You are reading this?” he asked.
“I have read it many times. Now I read it to my son.”
“But he is too young!” The man protested, almost angry.
“Is he? Who is to say? How young is too young to begin to discover the power and the beauty of words? Perhaps he will not understand, but there is a clash of shields and a call of trumpets in those lines. One cannot begin too young nor linger too long with learning.”
My father was a tall man, and now he stood up. “My friend,” he said, “I do not know what else I shall leave my son, but if I have left him a love of language, of literature, a taste for Homer, for the poets, the people who have told our story–and by ‘our’ I mean the story of mankind–then he will have legacy enough.”
Louis L’Amour, The Lonesome Gods, p. 141-142
Though our homeschool has changed a bit here and there over the years, one thing has been constant pretty much from the beginning – we wanted to make sure we read to our children, read often, read good books, and gave them a love of reading. Honestly, you could say this began Ian’s first night home from the hospital. He had his nights and days very mixed up, so after he nursed, John took him and hung out with him until it was time to feed him again. Starting that very first night, John read to Ian. If I remember correctly, it was Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You Will Go! It didn’t matter that Ian didn’t understand a word of the story. What mattered is that he knew his daddy’s voice, heard the rhythm and cadence that comes with hearing spoken language, and knew that daddy was with him.
That practice has continued throughout our children’s lives. Even now, I still read to them in the mornings during the school year, John reads to them most nights at bedtime, and we often have a family audio book going. Reading – together, alone – has become part of our culture as a family.
I still remember something my principal told a group of us when I was still teaching. His two sons were older – one in college and one in high school – but he said they still read aloud as a family. They often took turns, sharing books they loved, with each other. They also would listen to books in the car as they drove places. To realize that once my children were able to read to themselves that it was still a good thing to read to them made a huge impact on me. Ian, that little newborn who heard his first story the night he came home from the hospital, still loves to listen to his father and I read to him and his siblings. Truth be told, they all still love to listen to the early pictures books being read to the youngest two.
“Who knows how much he will remember? Who knows how deep the intellect? In some year yet unborn he may hear those words again, or read them, and find in them something hauntingly familiar, as of something long ago heard and only half-remembered.”
Louis L’Amour, The Lonesome Gods, p. 141
We may not have monetary riches to leave our children. At this point in our lives, with my oldest nearing the end of his homeschooling career, I’m just hoping we have riches enough to help with college for five children. But, we can leave them a few things money can never buy – a love for language, a love for literature, a friendship with some of the greatest writers who wrote some of the greatest works. Combine that legacy with being able to give them their faith, and they will be rich beyond compare.