Thursday, September 19, 2013

Beauty of Reading to a Child

Donna Tartt’s article, “On Barrie and Stevenson,” is a beautiful testimony on the impact of lovingly reading with a child (follow the link and then you can search the document for her name).
Tartt describes the special relationship she had with her great-grandmother with whom she shared the rich of adventures of reading. Tartt writes,
I marvel now at the way she used to read to me—eight hours at a stretch sometimes, whole books in a day, her voice growing hoarse as the shadows lengthened and the room darkened and I sat alongside her in her bedroom listening to her every syllable with desperate attention, dreading the ring of the telephone in the next room (which of course would be my mother, to summon me home to dinner). We read everything—

Tarrt also describes how she loved her great-grandmother’s voice:
a particular lilt crept into my great-grandmother’s voice when she sang and when she read to me aloud. It was dreamy and gorgeous to my ear, this special voice of hers, the very stuff of warmth and love; it was, I believed, peculiar to her alone of all the world, a voice which, like a cat’s purr, was specific to hearth and home, reserved for her dearest ones. Not until I was older—and, rather to my shock, heard the private lullaby voice being spoken in public by a perfect stranger on a television program—did I realize that the beloved musicality which for many years I’d confidently believed was mine alone was in fact a Scots accent.
You’ll have to read the article to discover how a woman who grew up in Mississippi had a (true) Scottish accent!

This article was a wonderful reminder to me of the amazing, rich opportunity I have in reading with my children. Mutually shared and enjoyed stories shape and enrich life. I don’t want to miss out on that.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tolkien, A Son and A Father’s Legacy

Recently the first ever press interview with Christopher Tolkien, son of J. R. R. Tolkien and the official executor of J.R.R. Tolkien's estate, was published (the link takes you to an even more recent translation of the interview into English). The headline makes much of Christopher Tolkien’s displeasure with Peter Jackson’s movie interpretations, but what I found most intriguing was the story of a father’s affection for his son and the son’s labors to preserve and advance the work of his father. It is a beautiful story of father-son interaction and devotion.

As those familiar with the works of Tolkien will know, it is to Christopher Tolkien that we are indebted for The Simarillion and other published pieces of the story of Middle Earth. When J. R. R. Tolkien died his unpublished work was a mass of scattered and unorganized papers. Christopher resigned his faculty position in Old English at New College Oxford and threw himself full time into editing the work of his father and preserving and advancing his legacy. As the article states: “One thing is certain: from father to son, a great part of the work of J.R.R. Tolkien has now emerged from its boxes, thanks to the infinite perseverance of his son.”

This devotion was fired by the father sharing his stories with his son.
“Christopher Tolkien's oldest memories were attached to the story of the beginnings[The Silmarillion], which his father would share with the children. ‘As strange as it may seem, I grew up in the world he created,’ he explains. ‘For me, the cities of The Silmarillion are more real than Babylon.’”

Fathers, none of us are J. R. R. Tolkien, but we do have great stories to pass down, especially The Great Story of redemption. This article encourages me to press on in passing down the stories of the Bible and of God’s faithfulness in our family’s life, allowing my children to see what these stories mean to me in hopes that they will own these stories as well. It reminds me that we are always inhabiting a story. The question is simply, “What story?” I want to be providing the parameters of great stories so that my family can inhabit and be formed by them.

Labels: , ,