Do you know the charm of an old book—a favourite in your childhood—with the sweet, musty smell of its pages, and the worn, fabric cover and now flimsy cloth spine? Do you remember how such a book opens and stays open—better than a new book ever did? How the browned pages, so much gentler on the eyes than stark white ones, cradle the old, black type?
Do you have such a book in your possession? Maybe you even have a book that belonged to your parent or grandparent, with their fond, childhood pet name inscribed in the front above the words, “From Grampa.”
I do. It was one of the treasures of my childhood, one of the old books which I read and reread, meaningful enough on its own, but doubly so because it was my grandmother’s. In a way, it is part of her legacy to me, and a reminder of one of the biggest things we have in common—a love of reading.
A love of good and great books is one of the greatest legacies we can leave to our children. It’s the kind of legacy that doesn’t stop with memories of the past but goes on creating memories for the future. Because really, it’s not just one legacy at all.
The Legacy of Learning
One of the most obvious benefits stemming from a love of good and great books is the ongoing education which they foster. A child (or an adult, for that matter!) will derive a vast amount of knowledge from reading an outstanding book.
This includes the direct information the given topic supplies, the indirect historical, cultural, or technical knowledge which a skilful author imparts without the reader even being aware of it, and the unconscious training in grammar, composition and expression that a well-written book conveys.
Readers who love good and great books can never really cease to learn.
The Legacy of Thinking
The second advantage which follows closely in the wake of the legacy of learning, is the habit of thought which good and great books encourage.
Both from a spiritual and secular perspective, good and great books supply constant food for thought. Every book ever written has been simply a collection of somebody’s thoughts, translated into a form which can be conveyed to, and deciphered by, other minds.
Our thoughts tend to grow stale when we have no new material to supply them with a fresh ground for action. Great books are one of the simplest ways of encouraging the habit of thinking, and good books are one of the surest ways of fostering thoughts that are worth thinking!
The Legacy of Christian Wisdom
Perhaps the most valuable benefit of all, when we think about the legacy of good and great books, is the legacy of Christian wisdom they afford.
Books possess an incredible power over those who read them. Whether we are meditating over a time-honoured masterpiece of two or three hundred years ago, or picking up a newly-written volume straight from the press, good and great books let us gather valuable treasures from the wisdom of fellow-believers.
Today’s church may face many challenges, but it possesses an incredible blessing in the twenty centuries of Christian experience which have gone before it. Giving a child a love of good and great books makes them heir to this priceless resource.
Good and Great Books: Are You Building A Legacy?
That old, musty, love-worn volume of my grandmother’s may seem like something small enough on its own. But it symbolizes to me the legacy of loving literature that my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents took the time to plant in my life. It symbolizes the seed of one of the biggest and most life-changing legacies I have received from the generations that went before me.
I want to give that kind of legacy myself, and to pass on to the generations following a love of good and great books which will change their lives, too. I want to nurture and encourage them in reading and loving such books in the hope of giving them a legacy which will keep blessing them long after I am gone.
Are you building that kind of legacy? Are you instilling in your children a love of good and great literature? There is no better time than now to start building your legacy!
Looking for ways to encourage your students to internalize knowledge? Check out our post, “How to Teach Your Students to Think.”
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