Monday, June 20, 2011

The Thomas Jefferson Style Summer

“What are you doing this summer?” is one of my favorite questions to ask.

I love living vicariously through other people’s cool plans of trips to the beach, mountain visits, fun excursions and neat-o camps. The best answer I have heard comes from a fellow homeschooling buddy who said “I’m having a Thomas Jefferson style summer.”

Now every one knows Thomas Jefferson. Most know him as the third president of the United States, author of most of the Declaration of Independence and a founding father of our country. But I don’t really think of him much when I’m making summer plans.

She explained that a Thomas Jefferson style summer for her family meant they were “reading as many great classics as we can get our hands on.”

You see, back in the olden days, that was how the leaders of our country got their education. They had a mentor and read every great book, discussed it, debated it and sometimes even memorized it. This was the style of thinking that shaped our country by forming critical minds, able to discuss, analyze and defend great works.

Wow. I was planning just to hang out at the pool. Now I have to go check out War and Peace from the library and actually read it with my son.

Well, maybe not. Even though I may not spend my summer lost in Shakespeare and Tolstoy, she makes a great point. Summer might be the very best time to read something amazing and talk about it as a family. Not to be busy every moment, but to spend time turning the pages together. Even though my son is old enough to read on his own, there is still something magical about reading a great book and experiencing it together.

Here’s a beautiful book to try -- check out the illustrated classic “Wind in the Willows” with the amazing art and charming story. Even though it was written in the early 1900s, the tale remains captivating. My video-game-obsessed, sports-all-the-time, 9 year old son loved this sweet tale of adventures in English countryside. And I bet you will too.

Hope you will enjoy some "TJ time" this summer with your family.