Posted by: Peadar Ban | December 1, 2012

Read To Me!

Perhaps the greatest adventures we can take are the ones we take between the covers of a book. I think the best company we can bring along with us are the little ones who “believe”:

I remember this among so many other things:  sitting on the couch in our living room, my son and my daughter curled and cuddled, quiet while squirming with anticipation.  I was about to begin to read to them.  The book was on my lap, title at the top, bright illustration telling of the joys within.

I remember this, too:  the little ones running for the growing stack of books on the book shelf we had named theirs in the bookcase.  One book each I had told them was theirs for me to read.  Read?  Oh, yes, I read, but penalties would be exacted, protests lodged against me if I used the wrong word, or turned a page too soon.  I never measured the time it took, but it wasn’t long I know.  It would amaze me, and still does, how easy it was for the little ones at my side or on my lap to memorize every word of those books and stories.  From time to time I would see them sitting on the couch, in a chair or sprawled on the floor, some doll or stuffed animal by their side, reading to the “person” with them in perfect imitation of our own lovely times spent together.

They grew, of course, and those times gradually went by, to be replaced by other sorts of loveliness and joy.  And problems, too …  What matter, them, though?

God is good, and soon came the next generation whose company I kept as often as time would allow; whose eager selves joined mine on the couch once more, responding in exactly the same way as had their parents, with exactly the same strict rules about faithfulness to the text and the proper pace of reading.

I have the memories, now, and the occasional satisfying dream of two beautiful periods in my life.  Dare I hope for more?  I do, you know.

Sometimes I see the little ones who live nearby and transfer hope to them — or their parents.  I wish for them the same warm joy, the same deep and lasting pleasure as had been mine, as still is mine, this pleasant memory of reading to a child.  To use an old word, a babe.  To form them in the love of books, opening their hearts, minds and imaginations to beauty in word and story.

There is a special spirit to the Advent time of year, of early evenings and long nights, of cold outside and warmth inside that makes such activities all the more alluring.  The children feel it, too.  I remember them bringing the book, or begging for the time to sit and to be read to.  They know Who comes, and they want to hear it told because time for them is so much longer in its passing which seems to us so swiftly moving.  And so, they bring the books and wait to climb aboard a lap, to be read to, to journey out of time and place into another world.

You know, I sometimes think a child should never even hold a book, let alone open its cover, until they have heard it read to them so often they have it captured in their heart and mind, word for lovely word, scene for beautiful scene.  Color me silly, but it is what I think.  As I said above, we are forming them in love of and for books and reading: a great pleasure.  I have seen my own sitting by themselves absorbed in the pictures they see for minutes at a time, which for them at that age would seem like an hour or two.

So I now bring to your attention a book: “24 Christmas Stories for Little Ones”.  Sophie de Mullenheim, Anne Gravier and Charlotte Grossetete have assembled the stories from sources around the world and traditions now ancient, to become part of a kind of Advent calendar, something to be read day by day – and year after year! — throughout December to little ones from 3 to 7, those perfect-aged listeners.  The stories and the art in this lovely book will move young minds and eyes to open themselves to Truth, the truth about Christmas and about love.  You and your children or grandchildren will take a journey together into a place and time that doesn’t have any limits, as Love leads both into and out of this world.

It is such a book as forms a vessel for the kinds of voyages that last years beyond their covers.  At The Christian Book Corner we are so pleased to display “24 Christmas Stories for Little Ones” amongst many other beautiful seasonal offerings… as well as classics of Christian literature, film and song … because we know the Beauty and Truth these things honor and enshrine.

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