MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, May 28th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. WORLD Commentator Kim Henderson has some thoughts on the ties that bind.
KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: There’s a bookcase in our house showing signs of years of service. Like its owner, who’s on her 25th year of homeschooling, it’s prone to get a little bent out of shape sometimes. Some might even say we both have a screw or two loose.
But in this fine piece of self-assembled furniture you’ll find priceless things, like a copy of Charlotte’s Web with the cover nearly chewed off—proof positive that books can be devoured in more ways than one. Robinson Crusoe, near the top, is suffering from curvature of the spine. Spilled milk has forever marred chapter one.
The bookcase has seen action in a series of educational campaigns. Eleventh-graders have waged war with the economics book housed there, and fourth-graders have battled to the death with spelling lists on the bottom shelf. This year’s senior, though, is the last of the recruits. The bookcase will soon get an honorable discharge.
And homeschooling, aside from all the hoopla over socialization and standardized test scores, has afforded time for the one thing that I’d like to think we would have done even if we’d taken another education path, and that’s reading aloud. Together.
Yes, even the 6-foot 16-year-olds listened in as we followed accounts of London’s Great Plague. But they did it while eating Oreos in a nice low-slung chair that, according to the guy from whom I bought it, once belonged to Eudora Welty’s brother.
Now if that seat won’t foster a love for literature in kids, what will?
And if I’m right—believing that bindings bind us—then all those hours spent immersed in paragraph after paragraph will pay off. I believe this because I’ve seen brown eyes light up as we read how Basher-five-two evaded capture in Bosnia. I hear them quote one-liners like, “What’s up, Esteban?” and laugh about a character named Hold-Your-Nose Billy. They even remember to pass the Kleenex along with Anne Frank’s diary, because that one always makes me cry.
So I’m grateful for a worn-out bookcase that’s acted somewhat like C.S. Lewis’ renowned wardrobe. While it hasn’t transported us to Narnia, it has provided passage to adventures on the Oregon Trail, at a Mayan temple, and across the Siberian steppes.
Along the way, it’s introduced us to people as different as William Carey and Harriet Beecher Stowe. And it’s still doing today what it’s always done best – challenging us to consider noble lives and noble causes we might never have known much about, except by reading.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson.