Magical Doors

Books Are Magical Doors
Books Are Magical Doors

I imagine you enjoy a good book. Maybe you even love them. In our high-tech world (and I’m not knocking technology … I’m just sayin’) we have other ways of grabbing tales. Playing online games can be a way of tossing yourself into a snippet of a tale. Engaging in the flurry of text messages and social media posts is another way (“what’s alive now in my friend’s life?”). We grab one another’s tales in the snowstorm of media.

I used to be a voracious book reader. Family vacations saw me packing a stack of library books to read during the hundreds of miles in the car (I did look up now and then to enjoy the strange, new territories!). These days, while I read a fair amount, it is by way of a book app more often than not. I think that’s ok, but I do love the feel (as folks often say) of a book lying open in my hands.

In any case, by book or book app, I still read children’s books. And I still read to my daughter (a teen now), every night at bedtime. We (and her older sister) have journeyed through hundreds of tales over the years, hundreds of magical doorways together. And in doing so, we’ve shared a landscape woven of some very diverse territories, from times past and into futures present. We share a magical world of imagination.

One of the surest ways to share magic with kids is to read aloud to them. I’m sure you know that and do that already! There are many good reasons to do so: inspiring literacy and a joy to read, creating and nourishing connection. I just want to add my fairy coin to the mix. When you read to your child, you weave a world together. With the books you both really enjoy, you touch into Soul–yours and your child’s.

Notice what your child loves to talk about regarding a story you’ve read. As in relaying any story, your child is revealing her soul–what brings her alive, where her special qualities may lie. The same is true for you. Story, sourced as it is from dreams (so to speak) can reflect like a mirror on a person’s deep nature. When your child (or you) puzzles over a conversation between characters, or recalls a particular incident in the story, he is revealing himself in the noticing. His yearnings, his hopes, or aspects of his own character.

Try this: Next time you read to your child, ask what really struck her in the story. What scene really stands out for her? What did she enjoy most? Or least? Or …? [fill in the blank with a question or two of your own]. Sometimes a child will feel like talking about the story right then, and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s better to wait until a later time to ask questions.

And ask the questions of yourself. What scene is most alive for you in the story? What upset you most? What touched you? Did any event or conversation or image open your heart, make it feel as if it was viewing something absolutely true for you?

Great treasures lie in stories, treasures for the soul. The stories are magical doors to those treasures. And books are lovely physical doors, with bindings you can open, and maybe some illustrations.

Read aloud to your child. Read aloud to him for as many years as you can.

What books have you enjoyed reading to your children? What books did you enjoy that were read to you–when you were a child, or perhaps even as a grownup? Please share your favorites here!

Reading Is Magic - photo art by Gwynne Valencia
Reading Is Magic – photo art by Gwynne Valencia. I’ve just finished reading aloud the Harry Potter books to Gwynne for at least the eighth time!

5 Replies to “Magical Doors”

  1. I always read to my son and now to my granddaughters. There are so many wonderful books. At the moment we are enjoying all the stories by Margaret Mahy. I like the questions you suggest, for asking at the end of the story. Will try that out. My granddaughter also loves me to tell her a story, without any reading.

  2. Oh, this brought tears to my eyes. My daughter did not share my love of books, nor did she love having me read to her. And TBH, I didn’t try very hard.

    This regret is tempered by just how well our relationship survived the bumpy years. She’ll be 28 on Tuesday and we have found the places where we connect, and that’s where we hang out. And I still read voraciously.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Juliet – So wonderful that you are reading Margaret Mahy’s books to your granddaughters! I enjoyed a book by her many years back — The Changeover — and found it be really unusual, like nothing I’d ever read before. Can’t think why I never thought to read Mahy’s books to my kids! How wonderful that your granddaughter loves you to tell her stories — and that you tell them! While we all tell stories (of our day, etc.) telling stories (as in tales) seems to be increasingly rare in families (or maybe I haven’t asked enough people if they tell stories to their kids or grandkids).

    Sue – Thank you for your comment. Your words remind me that it’s always important to meet a child where they are. If reading aloud (or some other activity) just isn’t a place where a child wants to go, then finding other places that do work is just right. I love how you put this: “we have found the places where we connect and that’s where we hang out.” Beautiful. There are so many different ways we can share an inner landscape and our hearts! Connection is what matters.

  4. Jane, delighted to hear that you know Margaret Mahy’s work. We love ‘The Man whose mother was a pirate’ and the tales about mischievous witches.

    Oh dear, this version of Captcha is frustrating! Too much mouse action and I’ve failed three (now five) times. Will try once more.

  5. Hi Juliet –
    I’ll look up that work! Sounds very fun.

    I’m sorry to hear that this Captcha is difficult! Thanks for mentioning this. We’ll get to work on changing it to something kinder. I’m grateful for your perseverence in attempting to leave a comment, and am sorry that you had to enter it not once — but many times!!!

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