I’ve been doing a series on Wednesdays entitled Why Read Aloud? If you missed any of the series, you can start here.
We learn about relationships through literature
I assigned the high school Shakespeare book club I host an essay writing assignment, Why is Shakespeare still relevant today? We read some of the papers aloud last Friday and they are amazing. Each is diverse and unique and answers the question according to the writer’s personality. There were comparisons between Julius Caesar and The Walking Dead (a zombie show) and references to young teen love and respect of parents (Romeo and Juliet), “off with his head” (Alice in Wonderland, but actually first in Richard III), brothers banishing siblings (As You Like It)and morals and values through thought provoking passages. I could go on, but the common theme? The problems Shakespeare addressed concerning relationships are the same problems we face today.
“I believe that Shakespeare is as relevant today as when he was writing. To begin with, his topics and themes are based on circumstances and events that happen in the modern world. Shakespeare’s dramas and comedies center around love-triangles, brother-to-brother fights, children and parents disagreeing, quarrels between religious sects, and friendship. Everyone around the world today has at least heard of one of these or themselves been involved. It can be beneficial to a reader of Shakespeare to discover how the characters handle their situation. Elanor Roosevelt once said: “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.””- Mary Grace Tillman (Shakespeare book club student)
Wouldn’t you rather learn or have your children learn about young teen love and the disastrous outcome of not being obedient by reading Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, Kristin Lavransdatter, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, or fill in the blank? Each one my students recognized the lessons on relationships in the Shakespeare plays so I am sure they apply the same sort of thought and study to other sorts of literature they are reading. Isn’t that wonderful? If we could glean even one lesson about relationships from literature, wouldn’t that help us? Wouldn’t it help your children to learn about relationships from reading a book instead of Mom and Dad preaching it to them day and night?
One of my favorite books when I was young was The Secret Garden. I loved watching Mary change from a spoiled little girl to one who had empathy for her cousin, Colin. Her character changed. She put the needs of her cousin above her own and with a bit of earth helped him have hope for the future. Because of that hope, determination and fresh air, he was able to walk to his Father and another relationship was restored.
It is important to read aloud, listen to audio books or at the very least discuss literature in order for these lessons to be discovered. Reading a chapter in which the main character makes a choice that gives him negative consequences is not enough. It can quickly be drowned out by daily activities and be forgotten, yet if it is discussed and applies to life, it will more likely be remembered.
I love A Jane Austen Education:How Six Novels Taught me About Love, Friendship and The Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz. Here is a man who took that to heart and hammered out the lessons he learned on paper for everyone else to partake of.
What is your favorite book concerning relationships? What did it teach you?
“It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;—it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.”
― Jane Austen,
Make sure you check out this wonderful resource- The Reader and The Book. So many wonderful reviews available at your finger tips, so if you are just getting started reading aloud, you have some wisdom to glean from. I jumped around the site a bit and I was pleased to see so many children’s books we own and love and the same goes for the adult selection of reviews.
Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday. Join us!