The Hardest Lesson of All

When children read, their brains are being stimulated in all sorts of ways. First, they are often reading about new or unfamiliar subjects. Second, they are interpreting images as they read and lastly, they are tying it all together. Their vocabulary expands, pronunciation improves, and their confidence in reading aloud becomes tremendous.

Besides improving how many words a minute a child can read or besides expanding their vocabulary, there’s something invaluable a child can take a way from a book every so often. A something that will move their little hearts and teach them something about humanity and life. Some people call it ethics. Others call it morals. And others may call it life lessons or parables. Whatever you call it, books can sometimes teach the hardest lessons of all about the world and humanity.
What more tender way to learn the gift of giving than by Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, or what easier way to illustrate the ramifications of pride and the importance of humbleness than through Marcus Pfister’s Rainbow Fish.
For the pre-teen readers there’s the infamous series of Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. The series follows Greg through the pains and awkwardness of junior high from sitting next to “jerks” to dealing with the popular kids. These are heavy issues introduced in a light and funny manner, and through Greg’s mishaps and fallouts between his grades to his friends, a lot can be learned.
For the bold and fresh, Andre Clements’s Frindle is another fantastic read for pre-teens or anyone who has been called a troublemaker or has ever dealt with a tough teacher like Mrs. Granger watching their every move.
These are books that put your child in social situations they might find themselves in, and page-by-page teach them lessons on how to deal with life’s many unpleasantries, from handling a rude classmate to dealing with a strict teacher. They’ll ask themselves, “What would I do if I was in that situation?” or even better, “What should the character do and why?”
Books give parents and way to introduce sensitive topics like bullying, peer pressure, and even death. They can be used to start conversations about awkward or personal topics parents, teachers, or guardians don’t know how but need to address. They can be used to introduce different cultures, religions, or customs. Books will start the conversation and you have the power to direct and lead it to teach a child something about character, humanity, and the other side of world.
A child that reads 15-20 minutes a day will likely develop keen reading and writing skills. They’ll grow up and be able to write a concise e-mail or memo. They’ll be able to skim quickly through documents and summarize what they read. They’ll be able to listen to a speech and analyze word choice and structure. They’ll grow up to be excellent listeners and communicators; something this world needs more of.
But more than that, books will teach them how to put life in perspective—something young children and teens don’t know how to do. Getting a ‘C’ instead of an ‘A’ on a math test (in perspective) isn’t so big of a deal after all. Tripping in front of your peers during an assembly is embarrassing, but in perspective, people fall all the time and this wasn’t so bad. People will soon forget and there are plenty of math tests that are on their way.
These are little issues of course, but to a young child, events like those mentioned above can be devastating and sometimes they need to hear it not from their parents, but from their favorite character that life goes on.
Life goes on. Believe it or not, but it’s important to know that life goes on, especially if your thirteen and your crush just turned you down to dance or even if you’re nine and in trouble for jumping off the slide instead of going down correctly. Books can teach that. Life goes on and we must live and learn, take the good with the bad, and pick ourselves up and go on with it.
by Chrsite Sosa