Well, for starters, one should read Virgina Woolf...
I'm "in love" again. I know, it happens so often but the other day I stumbled (tripped even) into this critical essay written by her and now I eat, breath and bleed Woolf. She has such a way with words - everything she writes goes "tumbling in the misty depths (of my) mind".
I want to share a few words from the beginning and end of the essay in the hopes of enticing you to read everything else in the middle...
"The only advice, indeed, that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions."
"I have sometimes dreamt, at least, that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards - their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble - the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under our arms, "Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading."
If anything, she has pursuaded me all the more to read and read and read. Not just fiction but memoirs, biographies and more poetry.
Her childhood education, because of illness, consisted of her father's library - where she had free range to read from the greatest minds. Her father had quite the literary mind and Virgina was well acquainted with many of his peers (all literary minds too). Wow! I envy her schooling and dream about my children spending hours amoung stacks of poetry and prose. I dream of saying, "Go dress for tea child, Mrs. Woolf is coming for a visit." (On second thought, that would be rather creepy as Mrs. Woolf has been dead for 7 decades - but you get my point, don't you?)
As I was reading about Mrs. Woolf I couldn't help but feel a small pang of sadness for my own daughter who is busting her butt to maintain a 94% average at school. As I sat in my own library, which has been carefully and thoughtfully gathered, I looked at all the classics sitting in the dust on my shelves. Tansy, who has a taste for good literature, has no time to read these lonely gems. She is too busy doing homework and for what? A 94% average? What is that, really?
It is a marvelous accomplishment and I am very proud of her dedication to her studies but why eat crumbs when the buffet is at your feet?
She said to me just the other day, "Mom, my friends were talking about how smart I am because I have the second highest average in grade 8. I don't want to be smart. I want to be wise."
I could have lost my eyeballs had they not been attached to my head - all I could reply, "If you read great books I'm sure you could learn some deep stuff..."
"I don't have the time, mom."
I know, sweet girl, I know.
I've pulled out some books and displayed them on the shelves - a subtle attempt to lour her to their pages and away from the drudgery of homework. Books like
- Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
- Laddie - Gene Stratton-Porter
- The Chosen - Chaim Potok
- The Hiding Place - Corrie TenBoom
- To Kill a Mocking Bird - Harper Lee
- Christy - Catherine Marshall
- Little Men - Alcott
- Northanger Abbey -Jane Austen
- The Good Earth - Pearl Buck
What would you hope your children would read? I'm always looking to add to my list...