We have enjoyed a lot of books together as a family throughout the years. Read-aloud time has given us the opportunity to share biographies of great men and women, adventure stories about animals and children, historical novels, Scripture, and some silly poems as well.
It’s been one of the favorite memory makers for me personally, and I think my children will agree.
Sharing stories gives depth to your relationship and allows you to refer back to a book or the life of a hero and draw life lessons from them.
Don’t get me wrong though – it’s not all rainbows and picnics and happy, bookworm-y children.
Some kids have needed Legos in hand or paper to draw on in order to sit through a story. Cuddling up with a book turned into several wrestling matches with certain young boys in the home, and many of our books have been devoured literally (with teeth marks and all) rather than figuratively.
It hasn’t always been pretty, but I think it’s been well worth it.
Making up stories is also a great way to connect with your kids and teach a deeper lesson.
Some stories can be a lecture-in-disguise, some are just pure entertainment, and some are family history with slight exaggerations that will probably be re-told to future generations.
My husband is the story-teller in our family.
Whether true stories about near death logging experiences, once-in-a-lifetime hunting stories, or made up nonsense about Hoogenboggers and The White Stag, he can captivate an audience. Whereas I usually want to cut right to the point, he has mastered the art of suspense, cliff-hangers, and punch lines.
Stories were admittedly easier to share when the kids were little.
Their schedule was dictated by us and we simply had to sit down on the couch to gain an immediate audience.
Now, with children in the house from nine to 16 years of age, it’s more difficult to gather them all in.
The difficulty is not in holding their attention, though – they all still love a good story.
Don’t be fooled by the myth of the aloof teenager. T
hey still want to connect with you, and they still enjoy being read to.
One of the lessons I learn from the life of Jesus is His use of story.
Jesus taught in parables. He told stories about heavenly things using earthly language that people could relate to.
He also veiled some simple truths to encourage deeper thinking and a hunger for more.
Often, the people who missed the point of His parables were the learned men who prided themselves on knowledge and law-keeping.
A parable can often get to the heart better than a lecture.
A good story lowers your defenses, and a parable can speak truth into a stubborn heart better than any finger pointing or personal attack ever could.
Another form of story is movies. Last year I read "Give Them Grace" by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, and one of the author’s points was to use the movies we watch as opportunities to find the gospel message and share it again with our children.
We talk about who the hero was in the movie, what faults the characters had, what motivated them, and how alike or unlike the movie was to the gospel of Jesus.
We are entertained by movies and we also learn from them.
Daily life with your kids gives you many opportunities to teach with story, whether reading a book to them, telling them a story from your life, or using something they can relate to as a parable for a deeper truth.
Don’t be afraid of concepts that are “over their head” or seem too complicated.
Tell the story, use the parables, and over time you will have built up their own internal library with life lessons they will remember and humorous anecdotes for the grandchildren.
“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” -North American Indian quote