There are so many books you want your kids to read. The books that influenced you. The ones that changed your life. The ones you have so many fond memories of. The ones that speak truths you know they need to hear.
But it’s essential that you don’t rush this… or at least understand that timing is going to matter. “There is a select group of writers,” the great Stefan Zweig once wrote, “who are accessible to anyone, at whatever age or stage of life—Homer, Shakespeare, Goethe, Balzac, Tolstoy—and then there are those whose significance is not properly revealed until a particular moment.” Maybe they can understand Ender’s Game at 11, or maybe it won’t be until they’re 17. Maybe they can get the message of The Great Gatsby in high school, or maybe it’s something you’ll have to read as a kind of family book club later on. Maybe they’ll take to poetry early, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll love The Little Prince as much as you did, or Charlotte’s Web, or maybe tonight is just not the night.
Zweig writes that he was twenty when he first picked up Montaigne’s Essays—an incomparable book–but that he had “little idea what to do with it.” It wasn’t until the last year of his life, after two world wars and a forced exile, that Zweig picked Montaigne back up. The connection was instant. The impact was enormous. Because the moment was right.
Remember, our goal here is to raise readers. But like gardening, there is a time and a season and most of all a need for patience.