The Surprising Companionship of Literature
The Surprising Companionship of a Book
One of the benefits of homeschooling is the ability to help guide our children in choosing companions. But do you know what I have come to realize over the past several years? In addition to other people, companions are found in literature. Important to realize, is that this matters for both children and mamas. After all, books are also who we spend our time with.
For behind page after page are the authors of stories. Indeed, beyond the inky words are people who have messages and ideas to convey to their readers. Truly, books are authors made manifest. While some authors are admirable people who we’d love to converse with in person, others aren’t so much so.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary explains that a companion is:
1. One who keeps company with another; one with whom a person frequently associates, and converses. It differs from friend, says Johnson, as acquaintance from confidence. The word does not necessarily imply friendship; but a companion is often or generally a friend.
We’re all aware how easy it is to spend blissful hours as we sit and absorb literature. That being said, it’s important that we choose wisely our companions even in literature.
While a companion may be different than a friend, their words penetrate our minds and hearts. Consequently they affect us for better or for worse.
Can you think back to some ideas written by an author that make you feel or think differently about something? And what about ideas that your children read? Are they drawing your children closer to the Lord? Or are they ever so subtlety pulling them away from Him?
Ideas have consequences and we need to guard our hearts. Because, as the Bible teaches us, everything we do flows from our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). Also, what are they internalizing as truth about themselves? What are you internalizing about yourself? Remember, life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). And I think that may also refer to the written words of a tongue.
The Seven Loves of Literature
As can be seen, the companionship of literature may be of delightful value to us. Or it may be a monstrous enemy. Because of this, it’s helpful to have a guideline for how to choose literary companions.
To be sure, one of the most helpful guides for me as a parent is the list of 7 Loves of Literature:
- A Love For God,
- A Love For God’s Written Word- The Holy Bible,
- A Love For Home and Family,
- A Love for Individual Christian Character,
- A Love for the Chain of Christianity as it moves westward and its contributions…
- A Love for Country- America,
- A Love of Learning.
The Noah Plan Literature Curriculum Guide ©1997 Foundation For American Christian Education p. 85.
The Lasting Results of the Seven Loves of Literature
Consequently, literature highlighting these seven loves will continue to instill a love of learning in my children and myself. For us, they help us to think on “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise…” as Philippians 4:8 instructs.
Questions to Ask About Books on Your List
In addition to using the Seven Loves of Literature as a guide to help you select books, here are questions to ask yourself:
- What are the messages that the author is conveying?
- Does the book have anything in it that would feed the flesh? Galatians 5:19-21 is a helpful reference.
- Is the author glamorizing a fleshly, worldly way of life?
- In what light is evil being cast?
- Will we be drawn closer to God?
- Are the Fruits of the Spirit highlighted? Galatians 5:22-23 is where you can find these listed.
The Internal to External Aspects of Literature
To be clear, all of the points above matter because of limitless consequences. During the engaging interactions with an author’s words, an effect takes place in one fashion or another. In due time, we begin internalize some of what’s said. Even if we don’t necessarily agree with it. Because some words are troublesome to us and may make us doubtful, feel depression, or tear us down.
Conversely, when walking with the wise, we will become wise. But a companion of fools will be destroyed. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary explains what a fool is like:
FOOL, noun [Heb.]
1. One who is destitute of reason, or the common powers of understanding; an idiot. 3. In scripture, fool is often used for a wicked or depraved person; one who acts contrary to sound wisdom in his moral deportment; one who follows his own inclinations, who prefers trifling and temporary pleasures to the service of God and eternal happiness.
Generally speaking, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). Therefore, we need to be on guard. And as we are, we’re keeping our hearts with all diligence. For out of our hearts are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).
Ultimately, we want to choose wisely among literature for ourselves and our children.
Choice Literature for the Family
If your family appreciates excellent stories regardless of general grade level reading, you may enjoy these as a family. In the light of all of this, here are a few of our family’s favorites that we recommend:
- Sir Walter Scott: Wizard of the North by Schultz
- The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace
- The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong
- The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
- Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
- Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry
- Cinnabar the One O’Clock Fox by Marguerite Henry
- Joel: A Boy of Galilee by Annie Fellows Johnston
The Christian Homeschool is a Teaching Ministry
In conclusion, I’d like to leave you with this quote from Pastor Phillips:
Give them proper books…. Bring them up to the habit of properly reading and studying those books. “A reading people will soon become a thinking people, and a thinking people must soon become a great people.” Every book you furnish your child, and which it reads with reflection is “like a cast of the weaver’s shuttle, adding another thread to the indestructible web of existence.” … Christian parents, be faithful to this duty! Magnify your office as a teacher; be faithful to your household as a school. Diligently serve your children as the pupils that God has put under your care. Educate them for Him….”
A Family Program for Reading Aloud by Rosalie June Slater ©May 1, 1991 Foundation for American Christian Education p. 53
Be diligent fellow Christian homeschooling mother. As the adage goes, the days are long but the years are short.