When speaking to parents and young people, Dr. Carson repeats: "Read and you can go everywhere and anywhere with anyone." In other words, "Read and your world will grow larger." Dr. Carson's world did grow much larger as he embraced the medical profession with purpose and distinction.
Reading as Intelligent Enjoyment
When parents read uplifting and inspiring stories to their young children at their bedtime, certain favorite topics will emerge. Animals, children living in faraway places, sports, suspense mysteries, the arts are only a few topics. Reading biographies is a fine way to learn about the lives of great people who preceded them. Biographies show children the worth of human life and how men and women have woven their own lives into the lives of historical figures. Reading biographies of these men and women and of saints too can inspire their imitation. Lives of the saints do this better than most.
Reading good literature can change life for the better in practical ways. It improves vocabulary and language skills. Children whose parents know a minimum of English need to read a great deal to increase their vocabulary.
The Language Arts as a Way to Virtue
Where do our children derive their inspiration? And by whom or what? Reading good literature offers virtue to them as an attractive way of life. In fact, reading can be a way to virtue. When children read stories about people who live virtuously, they are inspired to imitate them.
The ancient Greeks, a growing number of theologians, and other educators hold that the cultivation of virtue makes individuals happy, wise, courageous and competent. Summer is the time when our children should grow in virtues like faith, loyalty, hard work, and respect for elders. Virtue is that quality of character by which individuals habitually recognize the right thing and do it. Virtue is always in style and never takes a vacation.
The Joy of Memorizing Poetry
Readers ought not to be surprised at how many people learn poetry by heart. They do it while jogging, traveling by public transportation, doing manual chores, going on errands. Some years ago, learning poetry formed an essential part of the language arts curriculum. Children loved poems like "If," "The House with Nobody in It," "Casey at the Bat," and "St. Catherine, St. Catherine, o come to my aid."
"Marlon Brando memorized heaps of Shakespeare," writes Robert Pinsky. Maria Bartiromo, the daughter of Italian immigrants and a Wall Street Whiz, recites Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If" whenever she delivers a commencement address.
Memorizing poetry, apart from the sheer joy it gives, is power-power of mastering the beauty of the English language. It brings with it its own reward.
"Over the last two hours, my 11-year old kid has memorized 14 lines of Keats," boasts a mother, "the result of sheer bribery." Other parents confess to rewarding their children with a dime for each poem they learn.
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The Art of Beautiful and Distinctive Handwriting
Handwriting is an effective and reliable indicator of personality and behavior. Handwriting reveals the kind of person one is. In fact, handwriting analysis is used in interviews, job selections, and many other aspects of business. Yet, in public schools, handwriting is no longer taught. In Catholic schools, the handwriting class was the most rewarding for the children. And … for the duration of the lesson, the breathing of the children was the only sound heard, intent as they were on the art of beautiful and distinctive handwriting.
During the summer, children can discover that practicing their handwriting is a rewarding exercise. They can follow one of two methods: the Zaner-Blöser method or the Palmer method explained on their webpages, too numerous to list here. There are also websites that analyze your personality through your handwriting. Be ready for a surprise.
One Hour a Day
An hour a day, divided into segments, should be expected from children and young people to devote to the Language Arts. After a short time, they will experience the joy of having gained an intellectual power that no one can take from them.