Almost twenty years ago I met Andrew Pudewa, founder of the Institute for Excellence in Writing. Since my first introduction to Pudewa’s belief in writing, I’ve been one of his biggest fans. He states, “The auditory environment will have a greater impact on the way children speak and write then on anything we ever do educationally.” Embrace the previous statement and make this summer a game changer for your family. Turn the lifestyle you live today into a “reading culture” lifestyle for tomorrow. Make a daily effort to breathe in the simple statement above. Be attentive to what your child is hearing. Allow the truth Mr. Pudewa shares infuse into your home’s atmosphere. After all, God calls us to be attentive to what goes into our brain, and hence into our heart. His gift of hearing “packs a powerful paycheck.”


Gather the family together and hear “story” read aloud.  As a busy parent, who hopes to create a reading culture for your family, you might need to multi-task while read-aloud is happening. Instead of being the voice reading the story, allow an audible device (car, Audible App or CD player) to play that part. While prepping for dinner, folding laundry or driving to dance class, you, along with your children, will have the opportunity to hear exceptional vocabulary and the templates of beautiful language patterns.


The auditory environment you create will work its magic more deeply than anything else you can do academically. Here’s the kicker though. Take this seriously and you’ll not only serve your children academically, but you’ll also plant the seeds that will lead to great conversations. Story will give you the nourishing soil in which characters come alive.  Your family will connect with intimate friends, whom you soon love and admire. Without leaving the house you’ll travel to wonderful places together and experience history in ways that will penetrate your skin and become a part of who you are. And all of this combined will be a magnet pulling you into great conversations you would otherwise not be blessed with.


When it comes to competent communicators, speaking is the other side of listening. Hearing reliably correct syntax and sophisticated language patterns is powerful, but memorizing eloquent language is ultimately better. Encourage the memorization of poetry because it provides an unusual and formal way of speaking which children might not hear otherwise. They’ll hear and then be required to speak in a unique form of communication. Also, excerpts of great speeches from years past provide useful and powerful communication patterns and language templates. Scripture and songs also serve the purpose of accessing powerful language patterns and vocabulary. Grab some friends and form a poetry club and create the stage for a future Intermountain Christian School Champion Speech and Debate team. These simple acts will help your student become a more competent communicator.


Sarah McKenzie, author of The Read Aloud Family, clearly, confidently and consistently encourages the entertainment factor when it comes to reading. If your children are going to become avid readers, the people they love, admire and count on must also be people who read for the mere joy and entertainment found in reading. Before going to bed at night, ask yourself, “Did I enjoy ‘story’ today? Along with my children, did I enjoy time with a book today?” Children, who grow up in families where adults clearly love reading, follow suit and define themselves as readers. Viewing reading as their “family culture” they recognize the joy story provides. In their world, it makes complete sense that story is a daily event “their people,” the people they love and admire, do every day.


This should be enough to convince you, but there is more. Providing an environment such as this will supply a reservoir of eloquent language patterns for your child to use when called upon to write. Good writing is good communication. Make certain your child is immersed in language-rich soil, encourage his or her listening, speaking, reading and thinking in an environment which will boost his ability to write in years to come. Louis L’Amour, a western author says, “A writer’s brain is like a magician’s hat, you can’t get something out of it unless you put something into it first.” Be intent on providing quality literature during your daily read-aloud time. We do not become fluent through “small talk” and we certainly don’t hear it in the form of today’s media choices. We find it in quality literature.

Even if listening, reading, and writing is the only goals you reach for this summer, your child would benefit greatly. But that’s just the surface stuff. Underneath listening, reading, and writing glistens the gem of clear, unobstructed thinking. If we want our children to think well, they must be given the opportunity to ask themselves questions. Practicing listening, practicing reading, and practicing writing gives your child the opportunity to ask insightful, searching questions. We do it on the run, we do it without knowing but every time we listen to “story,” read “story,” and write “story,” we are inevitably asking ourselves questions which lead to constructive thinking.

I’m now twenty years deeper into my passion for language arts and am more committed than ever to share my love of reading and writing with children. It is my hope this message will impact your life as well. If it does, I’m fairly certain your children will respond one day with a “thank you.” I had a mother who read to me, where she opened the door to the love of reading that I have long-embraced. She carved out time for me to read, made wise decisions for each gift of a book and encouraged me to read to others. My mother showed me and helped me understand the power of story.

Here at Intermountain Christian School, we are all about community, and in order to foster that value, we would love to glean any wisdom on any book titles, applications, or authors from our readers! Please comment below!

Written by Shelly Davidson, ICS Librarian