Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Friday, February 11, 2011


I have always been a fan of the read-aloud.

My mother used to read to my brother and me before bed. She'd place a chair in the hallway between our bedrooms and read, sometimes until she fell asleep. I remember her reading the Little House series and books by Marguerite deAngeli.

School teachers kept me mesmerized with wonderful classics such as C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

My only complaint was that it took too long to finish a story. To solve this problem I would just go to the library and check it out myself so I could read ahead.

So of course I started reading aloud to my own children as soon as I possibly could. In turn I've passed along the greats that were read to me along with some new ones. Some we've loved, some we've not, and some we've disagreed. Our current modus operandi is to gather in the living room before lunch. I wrap up in a nice, warm blanket and invite the dog to lay across my feet. The children gather around as I bring our newest book to life. Our second-to-last book was Home of the Brave by Katherine Alice Applegate. I don't often choose a book by roaming the library shelves but I was desperate. It caught my eye because of its ties to Africa, immigration, and finding ones way in America; themes that are near and dear to our hearts right now. We LOVED it! There was so much more to explore in this gem: African proverbs, imagery in writing, effects of war and fitting in. From there we read Ten Kids, No Pets by Ann M. Martin, because, of course, I read every book about this subject that I can. So, not wanting to start another book until Shoun is here full-time (no one likes to arrive in the middle of a book), we decided to start William J. Bennett's The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories. Because no one ever expects to read it from front to back (do they?) and we can begin and abort at any time.

We've actually had this book for quite some time, since Andrew "gave" it to John in 1995 (I believe it was a hint to read to him more), but never read more than a few selections from various chapters within the book. So, today we sat down, ready to dive into the first of Bennett's 818 pages of virtues.

What a good idea! The first chapter is titled, "Self-Discipline." Already, after just one morning of learning from Bennett's comprehensive collection, we've learned the following:

-If you don't say please, a creature will run out of your mouth and jump into your brother's mouth, thereby making him say "please" twice
-If you are in the habit of slamming doors, something will fall on you and you will die.
-If you don't shut doors, you'll be sent to Singapore.
-If you are frisky, busy, modest, bright, pure, happy, and gentle, you will be chosen as someone's Valentine.
-If you have a curl in the middle of your forehead, you will either be extremely good or extremely horrid.
-If you don't go to bed when your mother tells you to do so, a fairy will come down your chimney. If you accidentally hurt her, the fairy's mother will come down the chimney and get you.
-If you wiggle too much, you will turn into an eel.
-if you go to the zoo, and let go of your nurse's hand, you will be eaten by a lion, feet first.
-Dogs and cats who fight in the middle of the night will eat each other, as witnessed only by the household Dutch clock and Chinese plate.
-If you don't listen to your hunting hawk's advice, you might accidentally kill it when it is trying to save your life.
-If you don't eat your soup, you will die in five days.

Wow! Such good advice people gave 100 or more years ago. Doesn't quite compare to the happily ever after stories of today. I can't wait to see what we learn as we continue in the self-discipline chapter tomorrow! One thing's for certain, my children will have so much more self-discipline than yours by the end of this chapter. Who wouldn't with consequences like these?

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