The Hidden Art of Homemaking – Chapter 10


{A list of all posts in this Hidden Art of Homemaking Series is found HERE.}

From the title of this chapter, you would think we’d be discussing phrases like ‘try-outs’ ‘memorize your lines’ and ‘lights, camera, action!’.

drama 2

But no. Instead the key phrase would be ‘read, read, read’. Read, you ask? YES! Nothing brings  stories to life better than one’s imagination while reading out loud together. Stories that inspire, spur you on to great things, overcome all odds, climb the highest mountains, cross the deepest seas, go where no child has gone before . . . (cough, ahem, cough). . . Ok, so I’m being a little dramatic (pun intended!). You get the point.

We began reading out loud to our children early on. I can recite One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish in my sleep to this day!Caitlin reading

When baby #4 came along, I found a book by the title Love You Forever —  a wonderful little book that takes you through all the stages of growing up and how Mother loves you through them all. The mother character sings a special lullaby each night, all through the years. The words to the song are repeated throughout the story, so I created my own little tune (inspired by a friend) making the story come alive. Now my own daughter reads/sings it to her little ones.

When we began homeschooling our children, our tradition of reading out loud at lunchtime began. A tradition we have kept up, off and on, for 21 years now. My teens have always enjoyed sitting in on these story times as much as my younger ones, maybe even more. We choose chapter books, classic children’s literature, books that are fun and/or informative, books that spark the imagination or challenge us to better character.

As the children sit and enjoy their lunch, I read out loud. It is far more interesting for them when I consciously vary the tone and pitch and meter of my voice. Am I coming upon a tense and suspenseful section? I try to lower my voice and slow down the rhythm for full impact. Are we jumping into something exciting and unexpected? I will speed up my words and raise my voice, and then pause for them to take it all in.

Maybe a funny accent is just the thing to draw your children into the story. I have some work to do before I can master the British accent, or the Brooklyn accent. I can add a touch of flair with a crisp, Northern US accent or a bit of Southern Drawl. My rendition of a Swede brings giggles from around the table, but that’s ok. I don’t take it personal.

Mary and Joseph 2

Impromptu drama presentation – You be Joseph, I am Mary!

We also read-aloud together in the evenings with Dad.  Our evening devotions as a family are centered around taking turns reading out loud from our Bibles. The spoken word brings people together. Storytelling has long been a way of one generation passing down history and character and life lessons to the next.

Some of our favorites throughout the years (not a complete list – there are so many!) are:

  • Mr Popper’s Penguins
  • Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Little House Series
  • The Chronicles of Narnia Series
  • Understood Betsy
  • Treasure Island
  • Swiss Family Robinson
  • Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates
  • Henry Reed
  • The Moffats
  • Ben Hur
  • Little Pilgrim’s Progress
  • Ten P’s in a Pod

Over time we’ve built up quite a library. I’m seeing some real gems at library sales and thrift stores today. And I confess, the kids and I bought Dad a Kindle Fire for his birthday this year. While I LOVE holding the real life pages in my own two hands, I’m excited to have even more books available to us, the electronic way.

The habit of reading aloud together opens up whole new worlds, and naturally pulls our children, even ourselves, into the wonderful world of make believe or worlds far away, without movie cameras and pre-printed scripts and someone else’s interpretation on the tv screen. It’s amazing this tool God equipped us with – the brain.

You just might meet up with a young miss who’s donned a pretty bonnet as she is crossing the prairie in a conastoga wagon:

Prairie Girl - Apron Strings & other things

Or a brave young cowboy roaming the range, keeping law and order in a rough and tumble town:

Cowboy Gabe

Rather than flipping on the television, or getting lost in a video game, consider snuggling up on the couch or gathering around the dinner table and enjoy a good book together. You never know where it may take you!

Have you picked up your own copy of this book yet? Click on the image below (my affiliate link) and join me!

Linking up with my Book Club friends at Ordo Amoris as we study through the Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer.Also linking up at Raising Homemakers, WholeHearted Home, Walking Redeemed, What’s Working Wednesdays, Welcome Home Wednesdays

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  1. We have enjoyed so many of the same books with our families. Here is to many more years of reading aloud.

    • so much fun, and wonderful memories. I asked my husband if we’d still be reading to each other once the children have all grown and gone. His answer was “If I can still see and you can still hear, my dear.” 🙂

  2. We loved Swiss Family Robinson. I”m sure your family will, too.

    We also enjoyed…
    Mr Popper’s Penguins
    Little House Series
    The Chronicles of Narnia Series
    Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates
    Treasure Island … actually anything around water was my son’s favorite read alouds

    • Swiss Family Robinson is an amazing book! We are enjoying it very much. It will take us all summer to read through it, but it is sparking great conversations and imaginations around here.
      Water-themed read alouds are the perfect thing for summer!
      Thank you for stopping by, Kerry. Have a wonderful day 🙂

  3. My husband reads aloud to me sometimes, after the kids are in bed. 🙂 It’s a fun thing to do together. He likes to read P.G. Wodehouse aloud to me.

    I like the idea of taking turns reading the Bible during family devotions!

  4. Oh those wee chidren’s books that we read over and over and over. “Bears in the Night” and “Stop that Ball!’ were favorites. I love the Little Bear stories b/c I remember them from my own childhood. I used to sing certain parts of the books too — I’d forgotten that until you said you did so too. Lovely memories.

    • Oh, yes, Mary Kathryn. Little Bear is special here, too. It is sad to me that I do not have memories of being read to as a child. I think my mother must have read to me. My father loves reading to his grandchildren. I just don’t have those memories. Maybe that’s why this chapter spoke so loudly to me. These books have become some of our most favorite friends 🙂

  5. Hello. I am new here and love this entry about how valuable reading is to the family. We have been doing story time every evening with our two growing blessings since they were able to … … I suppose, since the beginning. *smile* We are enjoying reading poems lately. It’s a new segment in our learning and I must admit, I am not a very proficeient reader but am getting better with each story or poem I read aloud. *smile* Both of our children read better than me. *smile* We are also blessed to have the opportunity to homeschool. It was nice stopping by. Have a wonderful day. Sincerely, Mommy of two growing blessings & so much more!

    • Welcome to Apron Strings & other things 🙂 So glad you stopped by. I love that you are stepping out and stretching yourself. I’d like very much to incorporate poetry more into our homeschool. Reading a poem outloud is a wonderful way to build a love of poetry in your children, and yourself. It’s exciting when we see our children surpass us, isn’t it? We are on an amazing adventure, raising our children!
      Have a wonderful weekend.

  6. I love reading aloud to my children! I’m hoping they’ll grow to enjoy it one day as well. 🙂 Thanks for sharing these great books, I’ll be sure to check some of them out.

  7. “Love You Forever” is one of my favorite children’s books as well. It makes me tear up – every. single. time! I also sometimes sing the books – especially the ones that I’ve read a million times! LOL!

    • Hello Kate 🙂 thank you for your stopping by! Singing the stories makes them more personal, helps make them our own. There is something about music that embeds a message in our brain. Keep singing!

  8. I really love to read with the kids too. But, when they were younger I was often so tired I would rush the reading (at bed time). And now, they take so long getting ready for bed, there’s no time to read. I will have to make an effort to read at points during the day!

    • Hi Joann 🙂 thanks for stopping by!
      I hear you, when it comes to bedtime – I’m usually ready for bed before my kids are! Daytime read alouds work much better around here, unless it’s 2pm, then Mama might very well fall asleep while reading. I hope you find some fun in daytime reading with your children!

  9. We have read many of the books on your list. I try to do voices, but I tend to forget what voice I used by the next evening so I just usually settle for reading very expressively.

    • I get confused trying too many voices, as well. The key for me is just speaking more slowly and thinking about how I’m coming across to the kids. They keep asking for more, so I guess I’m doing ok! Keep on reading to them!

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