C. S. Lewis on “Little Cyclones” (Young Boys)

As the father of two spirited boys, aged 10 and 4, I chuckled at these excerpts from the letters of C. S. Lewis, writing as a 55-year-old “crusted old bachelor.” (There’s some fine parenting advice mixed in here, too.)

December 21, 1953 [Letters, 3:389–390]:

We have had an American lady staying in the house with her two sons aged 9 1/2 and 8. I now know what we celibates are shielded from. I will never laugh at parents again. Not that the boys weren’t a delight: but a delight like surf-bathing which leaves one breathless and aching. The energy, the tempo, is what kills.

I have now perceived (what I always suspected from memories of our childhood) that the way to a child’s heart is quite simple: treat them with seriousness and ordinary civility — they ask no more. What they can’t stand (quite rightly) is the common adult assumption that everything they say should be twisted into a kind of jocularity.

December 23, 1953 [Letters, 3:394]:

We have not much news here; the chief event has been that last week we entertained a lady from New York for four days, with her boys, aged nine and seven respectively. Can you imagine two crusted old bachelors in such a situation? It however went swimmingly, though it was very exhausting; the energy of the American small boy is astonishing.

This pair thought nothing of a four-mile hike across broken country as an incident in a day of ceaseless activity, and when we took them up Magdalen tower, they said as soon as they got back to the ground, ‘Let’s do it again!’ Without being in the least priggish, they stuck us as being amazingly adult by our standards and one could talk to them as one would to ‘grown-ups’ — though the next moment they would be wrestling like puppies on the sitting room floor. The highlights of England for them are open coal fires, especially if they can get hold of the billows and blow it up…

December 26, 1953 [Letters, 3:396]:

My brother and I have just had the experience of an American lady to stay with us accompanied by her two sons, aged 9 1/2 and 8. Whew! Lovely creatures — couldn’t meet nicer children — but the pace! I realize have never respected young married people enough and never dreamed of the Sabbath calm which descends on the house when the little cyclones have gone to bed and all the grown-ups fling themselves into chairs and the silence of exhaustion.

Train up a child in the way he should read (a contest)

One of you will win all four of these excellent books—an ESV Children’s Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible, The Big Picture Story Bible, and Big Truths for Young Hearts. And a runner-up will win one book (your choice).

How to enter:

It’s easy. Christian parents, please write a brief description of 3 creative ways you trained your child to read. This can include ways that you cultivated a love of literature in their life and/or ways that you creatively instructed them in literacy. For simplicity’s sake let’s confine this to young children between the ages of 4–10.

The entry with the most thoughtful and creative ideas—as voted on by my panel of mothers with little kids—will win the collection of books.

These may be practices you used many years ago. It doesn’t matter if your children are now young or grown.

Also, my attention span is short so please be brief. Send me your thoughtful and creative ideas in an email or in a Word document (no longer than 1,000 words). Send it to me via email at:

crede.ut.intelligas AT mac DOT com

I’ll post the best entries on the blog and authors will be identified by first name and last initial. Winners will be contacted via email.

Entries must be received before Monday, April 12.

Those entries will be accepted from all 6 continents; however, only those with mailing addresses in the continental U.S. are eligible to win the books.

Thanks for entering.

And thanks for teaching your children the value of reading!

Tony