Like many homeschooling families, we are a family of book lovers. Each of our children’s spouses have fit right in to a book loving family; they love books, too. When we moved into this house almost ten years ago, we had simple pine shelving built in the room the previous owner used for a dining room. Our goal was to get every book Ray and I owned into one room and call it the library. We do call it the library, but the shelves keep getting filled up; books keep ending up in other rooms. How does that happen? Books and rabbits appear to have something in common.
Opinions about and experience with books vary widely. I can’t remember there being a single classic literature title in my home when I was growing up, but Daddy loved to read in our giant dictionary and I loved poring over our set of World Book encyclopedias. Once many years ago I mentioned the Little House books to a homeschooling mother who told me that she didn’t know that there were Little House books; she only knew about the television show. I hope my shock didn’t show and I’m glad her horizons were expanded. Some people use books for decorating. Once a lady told me that she used Beatrix Potter books for decorating and that it had not occurred to her to read them. What a loss. Several years ago a book lover we knew died and her children gave her books to us. One of her relatives said that we should take the books; she said that she and her husband did not have bookshelves. I thought that the reason you have bookshelves is because you have books, not the other way around.
Though we are all book lovers now, once upon a time that was not the case. One of our children (who is now an adult, a spouse, a parent, an excellent and prolific writer, and an integral part of Notgrass Company) did not enjoy reading. We had a hard time teaching her to read. We tried phonics. We tried Dad teaching. We tried a PBS phonics show called Letter People. We were mystified because it had come so easily to our others. Finally the ability to read came, but not the joy of reading.
One day when she was about eleven years old, I stood in the children’s department of our public library and wondered what I could bring home for my reluctant reader. My eyes fell on Winnie-the-Pooh, not a Disney caricature of Winnie-the-Pooh, but the original chapter book written by A. A. Milne and illustrated by E. H. Shepard. That was it. Winnie-the-Pooh was what she had been waiting for. Next came The House at Pooh Corner, and When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six. A love of reading took hold and has never let go.
In reading and in other areas, this child had a different learning pace than our other children. I’m thankful that we were able to provide a comfortable cocoon where our little caterpillar could rest and grow and mature in the gentle environment of homeschooling, because once that cocoon time was complete the emergent butterfly has never stopped soaring.
When a child meets a learning obstacle, it is easy to get stuck in fear. Just because something is true for a child right now does not mean that it will always be true. Just because a child is not at a certain point at a certain time does not mean that he or she will never get there. Strict timetables are for buses, trains, and planes, not for children.
Love is patient.
1 Corinthians 13:4