I realize that not every mother has a deep love of literature. But for those of us that do, there is no greater joy than sharing our beloved books with our children. The characters that were our dear friends now become the friends and even playmates of our children; the lands and the times we knew so well come to life again as our children experience them. It's a lovely gift to share.
Our literature studies are my very favorite in our day. It doesn't ever feel like school. Long after the work books are put away, after dinner and dishes and chores, when Two Little Girls are snug and clean in fresh jammies, we settle down into the living room for our literature studies... which simply means relaxing while Mom reads out loud. It's a bed time story in their eyes, not school, and so they love it all the more.
As our study of history courses through the developments of America, we have come up to the Civil War. And so, after much anticipation, we began Little Women last night. To read, "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," out loud to my daughters gave me a thrill that only other Lovers of Books could understand.
And as the characters are 'sketched' for the reader, as Jo is described as the tomboy with thick, beautiful hair always pulled back, who has a pension for writing stories, I saw the glimmer in The Oldest's eye as she related herself to this most-beloved character. Littlest One was coloring in the living room as I read, but stopped and looked up at the description of Amy, the baby of the family, with her blue eyes and blonde hair.
As the girls in the book confess their 'bundles', complaining of the housework they don't enjoy and of how hard it is to be good, both of my own girls by this time were fairly riveted. How beautiful for them to realize that they can related to young girls growing up during the Civil War, a hundred and fifty years ago. The struggles of young girls haven't changed much, in some ways. And when the characters in the book vow to stop complaining and try harder to do a better job, I could see the consideration wrinkle it's way across The Oldest's forehead as she thought about how she could apply that to her own life.
With forty three chapters of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy to come, I look forward to the cooler fall nights as we snuggle down and share their stories together. And I daydream of all the wonderful books to come. When we are done visiting with the March family, we'll meet Anne Shirley, and Sara Crewe. If I am blessed enough that they will still let me read aloud to them when they are in their teens, I will happily introduce them to Heathcliff and Catherine, Jane Eyre, and Mr. Darcy. So many beautiful, wonderful books are out there for us to enjoy together. My only concern is that there may not be enough time for all of them!