One of the joys…and the curses…of fatherhood is reading children’s books. Some are good. Some are terrible. Some might have been good the first time you read them, but by read 651 you want to gouge your eyes out.
But you read to them because it’s important. The books don’t matter, the time does…until eventually the books do matter.
One of the advantages of the ancient world was that they didn’t have so many silly children’s books or young adult novels. All they had were what we now call “the classics.” So kids weren’t just reading silly books about dragons or purple novels about vampires. They were reading and learning from the greatest poets and authors who ever lived—whose books talk about the big issues.
Xenophon, a Greek writer who would go on to be a general and a student of Socrates, recounts a pretty incredible fact about his childhood—incredible for how unremarkable it was for its time. “My father was anxious to see me develop into a good man,” he wrote, “and as a means to this end he compelled me to memorize all of Homer; and so even now I can repeat the whole Iliad and the Odyssey by heart.”
Can you imagine your kids doing that? Probably not. Who knows, maybe it’s too much to ask these days. But what you can do is at least expose them to these classic texts. Don’t wait for their school to do it—because they won’t (they probably won’t even show them the movie either). Don’t expect kids to find a passion for it on their own, because videogames and social media are way easier and more gratifying. You have to teach them. You have to make them excited. And that’s probably going to start with you getting excited first—with Dad leading by example once again.