Each year, right before the holiday break, Lea Van Ness and I read one of our favorite picture books to the Lower School in the spirit of storytelling. This year’s story, The Lion’s Share by Chris Conover, is a long-standing favorite because of the themes, characters, and stunning illustrations. At the core of this picture book is a lion cub (Prince Leo) who discovers he has wings and accidentally flies to an unknown land where a strange treasure is found. And in this strange land, Prince Leo discovers these treasures are…books and stories. Lucky for him, King Otto of the North (a polar bear), teaches him to read stories and also conveys the importance of education and the power of the written word.
Prince Leo returns home a changed lion––one who uses stories, language, and knowledge to make decisions and build bridges. King Otto writes in his farewell note to the little lion prince, “Remember that books are friends, too. They will help you rule with wisdom and true courage when that day comes.”
There are so many reasons reading matters, but for me, as a parent, a teacher, and a reader, it’s a little bit about escape and a lot about empathy and insight. Whether I’m reading a novel (try The Love Songs of W.E.B Dubois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers or Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr) or a work of nonfiction (The Library Book by Susan Orleans), I’m transported to other worlds where I see the mirror to my life or, most importantly, a window into someone else's culture, ideas, and experiences. I still remember hours and hours of reading stories to my children, most often cuddled on a bed with the refrain, “Just read one more chapter, please!”
Enjoy the holidays and time away ahead. I hope you find the gift of a good book for you and perhaps a moment to share a story with your child. I hope you each find your own nugget of wisdom as you read and explore.
Be well––and we all look forward to seeing you in 2022!
Head of School