Today Jacob was on a mission. He had found a DVD in the cupboard, and thought the gold lion embossed on the cover looked cool. So cool, that he decided he needed to watch The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ASAP.
I said, “Sorry, you have to read the book first. Do you want to read it now?”
Delayed gratification being a disappointment, we had a sad moment. It was short lived, and he decided that reading the book was an acceptable option. I fetched the book, by C.S. Lewis. When Jacob realized it would be more than a twenty-minute read, sadness returned. He wanted to watch the movie today.
I offered to read the first chapter aloud to him, get him started. He followed the words while I read, and I ended up completing four chapters. After Lucy returned from her second visit with Mr. Tumnus, and Edmund had eaten the witch’s Turkish delight, I told Jacob he needed to find someone else to read, because I had to go outside with Dad and do yard work.
I came in an hour or so later to find Dirk on the couch, reading the book. (I had thought he was on the other side of the house picking weeds…hmm.) Both Megan and Jacob were reading over his shoulder. They completed several more chapters together.
Later still, I found Jacob in Jenna’s room. She was trying to ignore him (although it’s one of her favorite stories), and his plan was to stare at her until she caved. I suggested that every minute he move a little closer. She ended up reading three chapters as well.
I love catching the kids reading. When I became a mom twenty years ago, I was so excited to introduce Jenna to the world of books that I read to her for at least an hour a day. Consequently, she was reading fluently at age three. According to her preschool teacher, I may have overdone it. For the next few years we frequently had to write a note to get her attention.
But, Jenna loves reading. For a while she was even a speed reader. At ten, she read “The Hobbit” in four hours. I quizzed her; she really read it.
Our other kids began reading at different interest levels and abilities, but I can proudly say I’ve converted them all. They all love a good story, and are often plopped onto the couch or porch chair, or holed up in their rooms, reading a book.
So, once Jacob realized that this was really a good story he had on his hands, he didn’t let up. By two o’clock, I found Megan and Jacob in my room, huddled around the little book, as Megan read about Aslan being killed. They were a bit stunned that he was really dead. I asked them if it reminded them of another story that we know, about someone who was innocent but volunteered to die to pay someone else’s debt.
Megan, an avid Harry Potter fan, said, “Snape?”
Then Jacob’s lightbulb went off.
“I know, it’s that guy from church!”
“Do you mean Jesus?”
“Yes! That’s him!”
You’d think we didn’t attend church every week, and have pictures of Jesus in our home, and teach about Him, and pray… But we come down to “that guy from church.” All righty, then.
There was a very brief discussion of this idea of Aslan and Jesus, and I left them to continue their reading. A few minutes later, I heard their joyful shouts, and knew that Aslan had been resurrected.
By about 3 o’clock, the book was finished. Almost everyone had helped Jacob read quickly through the story, so we decided to celebrate by watching the movie, right there in the middle of the afternoon.
Everyone loved it, of course, and we were able to discuss the story, and make fresh comparisons between the movie and the book. It was a family event, with hardly any arguments. A miracle. That guy from church would be proud.
I love days like today. I do a lot wrong as a parent (such as, apparently, failing to teach my son the savior’s name), but by golly, when I turn my kids loose into the world, they will be book lovers. And I think that’s a good thing, a valuable skill to have. Will they be hardworking, successful book lovers? I hope so. I hope the day comes when they each have their own homes with comfy chairs for reading. Just like the Kings and Queens of Narnia, once a book lover, always a book lover.