Imaginative Reading For Lazy Summer Days

Singing with your family is sure a great way to enjoy these hot days before school starts.

(Do you know “The Sands of Time Are Sinking”? It is from the writings of Samuel Rutherford, another one of those British Puritans. Learn it just for yourself first. Don’t leave out verse 6. This was sung at the funerals of both Charles Spurgeon and Ernest Reisinger, two of my favorite warm-hearted Calvinists.)

Now, you may not believe I am saying this considering how important I thank catechism questions are,

” Another way to make these summer days fun is to get their imaginations turned on by reading with the senses engaged.”

Feeling, smelling, seeing, hearing what the words are saying sets the mind free to put yourself into another world. It makes reading such a relaxation and escape and opens the child up to understanding a passage through its context—not just word by word.

Visual Images Derived From Words
The reading skill of being able to conjure up visual images from words is also vital to understanding the Bible’s true message. One way to practicing this skill is to read aloud from an array of imaginative books, including the Christian Classics. C. S. Lewis’ Narnia Series is a must. They can be read over and over. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan is harder for preschool or early elementary, but it works well for upper elementary. Read it to them and practice making the image of Christian fighting the dragon and climbing Hill Difficulty. Children love to act out scenes like these.

Do you need help with teaching someone how to visualize? Go to the top of my site, click “Building A Devotional House” then scroll down to “Turn Words Into Pictures.” This is pretty structured for the summer reading we are talking about here but it will give you an idea of how important the imagination is in reading the Bible. Images help us remember Truth. Your job as the parent or grandparent is to get into the right brain mode. You can do it!!

Use The Classics

Don’t forget Heidiby Johanna Spyri. You might have to look for a copy that is still the Christian version. I have one published in 1946. Look for a copy that includes the story of the Grandfather’s conversion through the life and prayers of Heidi. It might touch the heart strings of your little boys. Certainly climbing the Alps will.

Don’t ever underestimate the lasting power of a good book. Some children classics never grow old. When my father was in his late 80’s he still talked about Robin Hood,and The Tales of Hiawathaand King Arthur’s Roundtable.I later found the old copies he had kept from the 1920’s. These all stir the imagination and enliven the senses. You can feel the rainy English forest, know the thrill of shooting the King’s deer, feel the gallantry of medieval code of ethics, grasp something of the wildness of the New World. The Wind In the Willowsby Kenneth Grahame is good for short attention spans who are having a hard time with long chapters. Albert Payson Terhune’s stories about collies have long chapters for third graders and up. Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farmand Great Dog Storiesstimulate visual imagery and sensory perceptional skills.

Don’t rely on Disney to visualize for your kids. Their vivid productions cannot teach children to read words with their imagination and senses engaged. Christianity is based on the Word of God, and it is through this written Word that God communicates His essence and His will and His gospel. If you read the Bible with only your left brain engaged, it will be sterile and your heart will go untouched. Like music, visual imagery and sensory information warm the heart and stir up the emotions to love God more resulting in wonder and awe of the living God.

Read The Gospels And Psalms With Your Senses Engaged

Read from the gospels and Psalms aloud together, asking questions that will engage their senses. Take Mark 5:1-20 as an example. Picture this wild man living in the caves above the Sea of Galilee, on the Eastern shore. Feel the barrenness of the place. Experience his isolation and loneliness and his exultation when freed from those demons and restored to his right mind. Smell 2000 pigs! And wonder at the people who wanted Jesus to just leave them alone. Ask questions to elicit these sensual responses. Fill in information they may not know such as the desert on the Eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee or about demons.

Use Both the Right and Left Sides of the Brain

Those of you who read me regularly know I believe in the inerrancy of the Scripture and the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s enlightening of it to both the mind and the heart. Reading only with the right brain engaged will result in error of interpretation. Reading requires the ability to switch back and forth from sensory reading to factual and main idea reading, but do not let left brain activities cancel out right and vice versa. These skills are all basic to good reading. Those of us who are training children ought to make sure they are part of the curriculum in schools and churches. Two educational principles apply here: “Practice makes perfect; “Line upon line; precept upon precept” or “Build upon what has already been understood.” Children already have an active imagination; they just need to be taught how to engage it through reading without reliance upon photographs, illustrations, or video. Instead, these should be used to augment the right brain activity, not switch it into neutral. The 1898 edition of Hiawatha, a first primer used by my father in the 1920’s, sparingly uses simple and timeless art to do this. Look for books that do that rather than are few words and mostly pictures.

This is a fun activity. Enjoy it with children today. Grandparents, give this a try!

About Carol Brandt

I earned a B.A. in History from Florida State University and M.Ed in.Higher Education from Florida Atlantic University. I taught high school social studies before “retiring” to full-time homemaking and raising two daughters. Now I love being a grandmother to four boys and a girl. I have also raised five collies.

My husband, John, was an optometrist, who worked tirelessly for his profession through private practice and as a consultant, and served on the Board of Trustees of Illinois College of Optometry for twenty years.

Ernest Reisinger was my chief mentor in this warm-hearted application of Calvinism. He gave me many books! The Founders Journal and Founders Conferences, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Charles Spurgeon have been other sources of Reformed thinking as well as the other warm-hearted ones listed in my book, “Warm-hearted Calvinists.”

One Comment

  1. Joyce from Marianna, Fl

    Thanks for all your postings, Carol. I really enjoy reading them. The Lord has given me an opportunity to tutor a precious young 6 year old. She is trying to diligently learn how to read. The Lord has given me a great desire and ability to teach the young ones (and old ones) to read.

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