Importance and advantages of reading classic stories to kids

by Mary Ann on December 14, 2010

little red hen picture

Little red hen

Do you remember the story of the Little Red Hen? Oh, you remember, the hen with her chicks who found a grain of wheat. She asked for help to plant the wheat, harvest the wheat and grind the wheat. No one volunteered to help so she did it herself. When the bread was baked everyone wanted to eat the hot, sweet smelling loaf. However, she and her chicks ate it themselves. This is one of my family’s classic books. It teaches the virtues of  good actions, work ethic and personal initiative. It has been read and told over and over again in our home.

One of the best ways to teach children ages 0-12 is by reading them the classics. These are the foundational phases and the purpose is to give our children a firm foundation of core values upon which to build a great life. A classic is a work worth reading over and over again, because the student learns something each time. There are classics in each field from history, math, science, literature, the digital age, and even surfing, cycling, dancing, gardening etc. There are classics for every age group.

I personally believe that reading to our children, reading as a family and when ready, reading alone, are on the top of the list of ways to help children love learning and to help establish that firm foundation for a great life.

Norton family picture

The Nortons

Now back to the Little Red Hen. One morning the Norton family read the book the Little Red hen during their family reading time. Then they all went grocery shopping. When they arrived home the car was full of groceries which needed to be carried in to the house. Now normally everyone would scatter off to do the next important thing but not today. The classic had had an impact and all the children began carrying in groceries without being asked.

Another classic that I found late in life was Little Britches. I wasn’t able to share it with my own children while they were at home but after I found it I began sharing it with my grandchildren. Set in the early 1900’s this story is told from the point of view of a young boy who moves from New Hampshire to Colorado with his family because his father is ill and cannot work the coal mines any longer.  Through the eyes of this young boy we experience the perils and pleasures of ranching life from picnics to hay season, tornadoes to cattle roundups. Some of the main story themes are hard work, honesty, character, perseverance, and the simple life.

In a class I am taking a mother related this story. She has two boys in the age group we are talking about. They have been

little britches picture

Little britches

reading Little Britches.

Recently the younger of the two boys shared some information about his brother which he knew he shouldn’t share and which caused his older brother some difficulty and embarrassment. In a private moment talking with his mom about the situation he said, “I guess I have taken some of the boards off of my house”, in reference to a comment by Ralph, the lead character in Little Britches. Ralph was referring to doing something that was destroying his house of character.

Reading regularly in family reading time from the classics, to our children, can be some of the most enduring and meaningful times we can have with them. My 33 year old mentioned recently how wonderful it was, the way I read to them all the time. Amazing!

I really didn’t read to them all the time. I read to them but it wasn’t consistent but see how powerful what I did do was. She remembered whatever was offered in such a positive light. Read to your children and read them your classics. If you want them to LOVE learning then read to them. Don’t worry so much about if they read. If you will read to them out of the best books they will learn to love learning and that will include reading.

In the mean time, you will help them build a firm foundation upon which to build a great life.

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