The Value of Reading Widely

*Here is another post from my archives that I’ve updated and am re-posting.*

Awhile back, I began reading the book Watership Down. One day, while reading this book, I found myself reading the following words:

Odysseus brings not one man to shore with him. Yet he sleeps sound beside Calypso and when he wakes thinks only of Penelope.” (Ch. 22, pg. 162)

Right smack dab in the middle of a book about rabbits was a reference to The Odyssey, a classic work of ancient literature. What is exciting about this is that because I had started reading The Odyssey at one time, I knew exactly what that reference to The Odyssey was. And that’s exciting to me! Why? Because it’s a connection…a connection between two very different types of books. No one had to point it out to me. I knew the connection because I had read some of The Odyssey myself.

Reading Widely

Coming across this reference to The Odyssey in Watership Down is just one example of the benefits of wide reading:  you never know when any two books you read will cross paths and a connection is made.

Through wide reading…through a generous curriculum full of quality living books…children are introduced to many ideas. And ideas are nourishing food for the mind.

“The life of the mind is sustained upon ideas…” (A Philosophy of Education, pg. 25)

“The intellectual life…has but one food whereby it lives and grows – the sustenance of living ideas.”
(School Education, pg. 121)

“…mind appeals to mind and thought begets thought and that is how we become educated.”
(A Philosophy of Education, pg. 12)

Reading widely is good for our children; and I think it is also good for us.

Our children’s minds need the nourishing food of ideas. So do we.

That wide reading…that filling of our minds with lots of soul-nourishing, mind-nourishing ideas…is important. When we read widely, we are exposing ourselves to a world of ideas; and that means we are learning…we are growing…we are enriching our lives.


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