Life-changing bedtime stories

"Today," my husband, Sam, announced to his family proudly, "as our under-six team was losing 8 - 4, Joah saved us from disgrace by placing his brave head in the way of an oncoming ball."

We all whooped loudly.

"But that’s not all," Sam continued. "He saved the goal, even though his nose burst into blood."

We ummed and aahed in admiration.

"But that’s not all," Sam beamed at his boy, "what really made me proud was that instead of running off the field to his mama, he insisted on continuing play."

We all agreed that he was a brave boy!

"But I," Sam finished off, "put it down to all those books we’ve been reading him. He is growing up on courage."

Teaching through bedtime stories

Sam, who takes charge of the night-time reading in our home, had just finished the gripping tale of Theras. He is a Spartan warrior, who had fought for his town, his people and his honour. Joah had hung on Theras’ every word and action – his fine rigour and discipline, his heroism, his valour and his patriotism.

When Theras fought, Joah was fighting with him; when Theras fell, Joah was by his side.

We had long held that education, as CS Lewis said, was about teaching your children to love what is noble. And so every night for an hour, my husband fed them book after book, tale after tale of bravery and sacrifice, honesty and faithfulness, gentleness, graciousness and valour.

He sowed and sowed and so far he had not seen a huge harvest of nobility. But every night Joah hung on those stories, begging for just one more chapter. His face grew red in every battle scene and his eyes smiled with every victory. And now here, at last, was a fine example of what those stories had done: When any other 6-year-old boy would have crumbled, Joah fought on with valour.

He was getting it, Sam insisted. He was translating Ancient Greece onto a modern soccer pitch.

That night, after a few more feasts on Alexander the Great, William the Conqueror and Richard the Lion-heart, Sam asked our children what they would like to be when they grew up.

"An author," 8-year-old Lael replied.
"A teenager," 4-year-old Anna mused.
"A king," 6-year old Joah dreamed, leaning back on his pillow, his mind beginning to wander.

Like Alexander and William and Richard, Sam thought, for the power to fight for what is good, for the strength to conquer and rescue.

"I’d like lots of money," Joah sighed, "and lots of slaves."

Looks like those books aren’t just teaching courage, we agreed.

Do you think reading can really change who your children become?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
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