- Charity Hill
Living Deeply, Reading Deeply
"O Come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our Spirits by thine advent here.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight."
I wonder if your heart is filling with hope as the days grow brighter in the approach to Christmas?
In these days of waiting and longing, I feel like the "longing-est" person, the hungriest soul, the restless seeker. I am a question to myself, the answer to which is outside of me...even as it can be found (again) within me. I feel that way all year, though! Maybe that is why I frame so much of my reading of books (adult fiction and children's literature) with the questions, "Who am I?, Where have I come from?, Where am I going?, What good must I do?, What do I love?"
In these days of seeking, I have been thinking about "why" Bright Wings, why books? I generate the podcast out of both wealth (I have ideas I want to share!) and poverty (it helps me grow, to share with you). So, "why Bright Wings"? I make it because I want to live well. I think you listen because you, too, want to live well. We want to be fully alive: We want to live a more examined and aware life, connected to what is true, good, and beautiful. And we want this kind of existence for our children.
If I was to make a personal thesaurus entry for the word "book," I would enter the words friend, mentor, confessor, community, world, mirror, painting, portal. Books confirm and generate relationships, and relationship is the goal of existence. We want to be woven more intimately into the warp and weft of the fabric of reality and its mystery. We want to live with what Alan Jacobs terms "greater personal density" (Breaking Bread With the Dead). I think we want to live this "density-in-relationship-to-reality" together with our children. If we put together the weaving and density notions, the image in my mind is a heavy, silk cloth or a woolen, Persian rug.
What can I give you? I can tell you what helps me with my soul hunger.
For me, Well-Read Mom offers so much of what helps me live with greater personal density. WRM gives me a community of women readers that enriches me. I read and discuss in a local group; they are also my most trusted friends; we "live together" and read together and talk about real things at book club and outside of book club. You can find a group, if you like.
I also research and write WRM's Family Supplement. In the Family Supplement, I suggest a picture book and a middle grade novel that pairs thematically with what the women are reading each month. You can listen to this short podcast with Marcie Stokman that covers September to December (2022) AND you can see the (admittedly incredible) children's literature that I paired to go along with what the women read. This paring allows you to have a family-wide conversation on something beautiful or difficult that you are reading about, thinking about, and considering within a larger community of reading women.
This is not a Well-Read Mom advertisement. I'm just one beggar telling another beggar where to buy bread! lol! And, heck, if you like Bright Wings and good children's literature and thoughtfulness, the Family Supplement is included with WRM membership. I fill the Family Supplement with the highest-quality literature choices. I summarize each book (so you don't have to read the extra novel) and tell you how it corresponds to what the you are reading in your WRM group. Then, I give you discussion questions, so you can have a conversation with your child(ren). Some kids use the Family Supplement material to run their own bookclub that runs parallel to their moms' club (I love that! In fact, if you do, please email me!)
And, here, let me give you a funny little present from my heart: In this video from 2020 I share with you some of my favorite Christmas picture books. See if you notice where I start of choke up. Maybe it's clearer when I'm not choking up?!
I am sincerely thankful that there is a "you" in the world, who cares about beauty, goodness, and truth, who cares about communicating these realities to a child.
Onward and upward, into the Real!