Gladys Hunt on Shared Adventures

Editor’s Note: This month’s Honey for a Child’s Heart Read-along chapters are “The Pleasure of a Shared Adventure” and “Animal Lovers.” Here’s Gladys Hunt with all the inspiration you’ll need for becoming a read-aloud family.

A Gateway to Wonder and Beauty

(Originally published on the Tumblon website, March 24, 2009.)

 “A good book is a magic gateway into a wider world of wonder and beauty.” I never tire of using that line because I believe it to be true. A child has a fresh, uncluttered mind and parents have the delightful privilege of furnishing that mind with what is rich and good. But it has to be intentional. It doesn’t just happen by itself.

There is a touch of the supernatural in good communication that ministers to the spirit . . .

Every child ought to know the pleasure of words so well chosen that it awakens sensibility, great emotions and an understanding of truth. There is a touch of the supernatural in good communication that ministers to the spirit, a true gift. It’s good to pay attention to language.

But there are so many other things claiming our attention. Someone calculated that a child sees between 1,200 and 1,800 messages a day, whether consciously or subliminally. If that’s true and we have no control over what these messages are, then we are wise to pay attention to what messages we give a child. It’s become a complicated world. A busy world. A “no time for reading” kind of world. So what do you do?

We begin with the realization that the world no longer exists that allows a son to know his father’s values simply because they live in the same house. Things need to be talked about, especially as a child grows older. Reading books together gives opportunity and fodder for things to talk about. We don’t preach sermons about behavior so much as ask questions about the characters we read about and the situations they encounter.

How do you understand what it means to be noble or brave or unselfish or faithful unless we see it demonstrated?

We can talk about “family values” as if it was a commodity we can package up, but how does one come to understand the virtues we consider important. How do you understand what it means to be noble or brave or unselfish or faithful unless we see it demonstrated? Good books help us understand the fabric of life and what makes it work. I think of a nine year old who told me he read Call it Courage five times one year because it made him feel brave. Did he feel brave, or did he see how bravery looks?

Can you be intentional without being “preachy” and didactic? Yes, read some good books together. Fathers need to get into this as well as mothers. The complaint of many male teenagers is that “I don’t know what my Dad is like.” The easiest way to fix that is to talk about ideas. The easiest way to talk about ideas to have some common content. You can get that by reading a good book together.

© Gladys M. Hunt 2008-10, reissued in 2022 with minor adjustments with permission of the Executor of the Literary Estate of Gladys M. Hunt (4194 Hilton SE, Lowell, MI 49331). Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Janie Cheaney

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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