A couple of weeks ago my daughter ordered a book that had been one of her childhood favorites— Puppies Are Like That. Her long lost book was worn and tattered after being read again and again. She remembered this book with fondness, and was eager to read it to her youngest daughter.
Since the book is out of print I searched for it on the web. As I discovered places to order used copies, I stumbled upon a review of the book which caught my attention.
When my nephew was a toddler, he loved this book more than all the others combined. Between his parents, grandparents and me, we must have read him that book thousands of times, at least, before he learned to read it by himself.
Twenty years later, a friend gave me a big bag of books her children no longer needed. Down at the bottom of the bag was a copy of that book, well-worn and obviously loved. I laughed when I saw it and set it aside.
The next time my nephew visited me, I handed him that old book. Now that he was a grown man, would he remember the book or think that it was weird that his aunt gave him a children’s book? He remembered the book and still loved it. He instantly sat down and read it several times. When he was done, he told me he remembered the book and all the people who read it to him. He remembered what it was like to sit in his great-grandmother’s lap and snuggle while she read to him.
His grandmother and great-grandmothers are gone now, but the memories of them live on because of this simple child’s storybook. All the photos of them in our albums can’t conjure up the feelings of love and safety the way that one book does for my nephew.
What a powerful statement. Never underestimate the feelings of love that can come as a result of your reading books to your children. As I read this review, I was reminded that connections are made and memories are born—not out of specific books or activities—but from the ways we felt when we experienced these things.
I don’t remember many things from my youngest childhood days, yet I distinctly remember two events. One took place at an Easter egg hunt when I was about five years old. A golden egg was hidden among the other eggs—and I found it. I remember how special I felt to have found the golden egg. At another time I distinctly remember the smell of onions on my mother’s hands one evening as she placed her hand on my forehead as I prepared to “throw up.” I remember how comforted I felt that she had come, even though the poignant smell of dinner preparations on her hands helped finish the “deed that needed to be done.” I felt significant enough to interrupt her dinner preparations.
Several times when the apostle John remembered significant life events—he referred to the way he felt as he experienced them.
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. John 21:7
How significant that in the midst of such major events in John’s life (Jesus’ crucifixion and John’s walk on the water) he felt loved. So much so that he referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved.
Since I wasn’t there when Jesus lived, didn’t witness his miracles, hear his teaching or watch his death on the cross I have at times wondered how it’s possible to feel connection to him…or “remember him.” Yet a connection beyond human understanding happens when I read his word—many feelings are associated.
I remember reading about forgiveness, and then feeling clean and guilt free as I walked the path back from the river where I was baptized years ago. I remember reading of peace that passes human understanding, and experiencing that peace even when my circumstances were not peaceful. I recount the joy I continue to feel because of the relationship I share with him. I am keenly aware of feelings of warmth that well up inside of me as I experience fellowship within the spiritual family God has given me. I remember the safety I have felt (even in frightening situations)—all because of the promises of God that I have read and relied on. Because he is present in his word I remember much more than facts and stories—his words are the words of life. They have led me to relationship with him.
As you read the Bible— know that it’s meant to lead you to a relationship that connects you with God himself—filling the deepest recesses of your heart.
So, don’t forget to read to your children…and more importantly don’t forget to read your Bible. You will build memories that last forever.