Have you ever had the experience of being lost in a good book?  Suddenly, you emerge from reading and realize hours have passed, yet you cannot rest until the story is resolved.  The importance of reading is widely known and supported by educators. Numerous studies correlate academic achievement with time children spend in text. Clearly, teachers want to develop a passion for reading, but does the content of what children read matter?  As a teacher, I have heard countless parents proclaim, “I know my child is reading junk, but at least they are reading.”   This logic parallels, “Sure my child is eating greasy fast food, but at least they are eating!”  As a concerned parent and educator, I believe the literature children read does matter. Reading a good book engages children and brings them into a new world to explore.  I want that to be a world of truth, beauty and goodness.

Fiction reveals truth.  Through rich classical stories, children have the chance to explore deep principles.  Spoken by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”   In my classroom, students pour over The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and discuss the power of change, positive thinking, hope, and the regeneration of families.  They delve into Across Five Aprils and navigate the effects of war. Students can glean a glimpse of the world and watch truth revealed, decisions and consequences all unraveled in their safe environment at Trinity Academy.

Fiction builds a sense of curiosity and trains the imagination to focus on goodness.  When children dive into stories such as C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, they have a chance to see the world as it could be, a path to goodness, free from evil influences.   Recent studies on reading demonstrate that fiction molds the reader’s thoughts. The more deeply we are cast under a story’s spell, the more potent its influence. As a teacher, I want my children to focus on quality literature that will spark curiosity of the goodness of human nature, knowing that the choice of stories is shaping their thoughts. Turning to timeless treasures helps ensure that I am pointing a child to rich ideas.  Novels such as Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s The Moccasin Trail show the goodness of human nature and the acceptance of others, regardless of race.  Reading The Hawk that Dare Not Hunt by Day by Scott O’Dell, children are thrown into the Reformation and can wrestle with choices on whether they should listen to leaders or God (when the two appear to be in conflict).  Classical stories spark creativity and allow students to explore human nature.  In my classroom at Trinity Academy, we examine ideas of literature in light of God’s word and search for the goodness in the world.

Classical Fiction shows beauty.  Words eloquently woven together paint pictures and challenge readers.   Soaking in rich, descriptive language often heightens ones awareness of the beauty in nature and emboldens the courage of those around us. It is there I want my students’ minds to rest.

Scripture reminds readers in Philippians 4: 8 “Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  I want to expose the minds of children to focus on things that are true, good, and beautiful.  High quality, classic reading materials ensure that children feast not on the “greasy foods” but the “nutritious delicacies” of timeless texts and thoughts they inspire. To find reading resources to engage your children over the summer months, visit us at http://tiny.cc/TrinCurriculum.

Gina Scrudato, MaEd
Trinity Academy Teacher