professornana (professornana) wrote,

Reading for Aesthetics

The post about the rights of readers from the UK is chock full of good advice for those of us who want to connect kids and books. Today, I tackle this right:

Children have the right to read beautiful books.

When we look at those experiences that lead to lifelong reading, there are some key stages. Donelson and Nilsen, G. Robert Carlsen and Anne Sherrill, and others talk about these stages. At the very top of the heap (though this is not a hierarchy per se) is reading for aesthetic experiences, reading for the sheer beauty and joy of reading. And beauty is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder. So, aesthetic experiences might occur with a particulat picture book or it might be evoked in a passage from a longer work. It could be a reaction to a sentence or phrase. I have talked about this here before. It is that visceral response that moves us somehow. We see the beauty and react to it.

Many years ago, I came home to find my answering machine (remember those?) filled with ONE message. It was from my dear friend and fellow book lover, Bob. He had just read LOVE YOU FOREVER. He was sobbing almost incoherently into the phone as he spoke abot his last days with his mother, of picking her up and holding her in his arms. Of talking to her about their shared memories. This book absolutely touched the deepest resonant chord inside him. Now, my own reaction to the book was on a different level. But for Bob, this book was beautiful.

For Corrie (middle resident of the back bedroom in the past), the book was OFFICER BUCKLE AND GLORIA. For College Girl, it was Chronicles of Narnia. Truth is, we cannot always predict which book or genre will be the ONE, the gateway.

Kids need beauty in their lives. All too often, beauty is something rare. If we are sharing books daily, we can make beauty something everyone gets a chance to see every single day. What power these books have, don't they? And the power of beauty is immeasurable. Open the world of beauty to your kids today and every day.
Tags: aesthetics, books, reading
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