Exploring and delighting in what it means to be useful for the Lord's service:"Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work." (2 Timothy 2:21)
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
The Lost Art of Reading
Taken from my guest post @ riverbendchurch.com
I love to read a good book. I
love to skim multiple books at a time. In fact, there has not been a time when
I didn’t have numerous books in a scattered pile next to my bed, with bookmarks
sticking out and highlighters clipped to the covers. I read everything from
theological journal articles to blog posts from moms to the latest statistics
from news outlets.
Many people will generically
say, “I really don’t enjoy reading, it’s just not my thing.” While it is
certainly true that there can be many factors (of which we won’t have time or
space to address here) affecting whether or not a person naturally likes to
read, it remains a learned practice to one degree or another. Personality,
giftedness, and learning disabilities certainly play a role in the development
of a child’s reading abilities and habits. However, what we want to address
here is the why and how the discipline of reading serve as a critical part of
your child’s character development.
Most parents want their
children to be good readers. This article is not mean to serve as an academic
expose on the various technical approaches. But, it will provide some practical
points about the reasons children miss out on the discipline of reading, why
they ought to cultivate good reading habits, and how we can help them. Let me
first propose why reading is no longer a natural development in the lives of
moves fast today. If the microwave takes longer than sixty seconds to reheat
something, we are annoyed. So sitting down to read a book for thirty minutes
feels like torture!
Driven by technology
systems, Instagram and Facebook accounts, TV, iPhones for 3rdgraders…there
is no end to the distractions facing children today. Forget reading, that’s
Children are carted from one
sporting event to the next, taking gymnastics and music lessons, going to craft
camps, after-school tutoring. Of course many of these activities provide
helpful and needed stimulation. But let’s face it – fifty years ago (really
even twenty years ago!) children did not have near the options they do now. It’s
like going to the grocery store, seeing over a dozen cereal options when you
just need one for sustenance. Reading? Isn’t that just something we do in
Because of the hectic schedules
in our families, the resulting lack of conversation and gathering around the
table, leaves little time for connecting, much less reading. By the time we all
get home, we are exhausted and irritable – it’s time to veg out.
Now let’s consider the affects
of neglecting the discipline of reading in a child’s life.
Not a thinker
He will rely primarily on what
he is told for knowledge, instead of being able to apply a biblical worldview
through the discipline of reading, leading to determinations about how he will
live. He will hear a sermon, a lecture at school, or a conference session, and
have few insights about how to interpret the information being thrust at him.
More than that, he will have little motivation to go home and dig deeper to
test the accuracy of what he heard.
Poor writing ability
Good readers make good writers.
As a former teacher, I can accurately say that I am greatly concerned about the
many students heading to college who cannot formulate a well-structured
sentence and have no idea how to do research withoutWikipedia.
Easily swayed by popular opinion or peer pressure
Lacking solid examples of
character found in the great stories of early missionaries, war heroes, and the
like, young people today lack the understanding of what it means to stand for
Whew! In light of all this “bad
news,” how do we help our children cultivate a love for reading?
Make it a family event
My mother took time each night
to read with my sister and I. Now, I have watched my sister do the same with
her two children, and reading has quickly become one of their favorite
activities. They cannot imagine going through an entire day without reading at
some point. On a practical note, I think it’s important to introduce children
to books other than only a Bible storybook, even at a young age. This teaches
them about the varied types of books and allows you to help them apply biblical
principles within other stories as an additional teaching method.
This is a challenging
discipline, because most mothers end their evenings exhausted from a day filled
with cleaning, disciplining, preparing dinner, running errands – the goal is
typically to get the children to bed so that you can still have a few minutes
prepping lunches for tomorrow and decompressing with a bath or quiet time. But,
I promise you – your children will look back on it as a fond memory and a
meaningful time spent together – I certainly do!
Demonstrate the value of it
Being able to properly analyze
the content of what we read allows us to identify something as simple as the
difference between a review and a critique. As you read scripture, or other
books with your children, have them write a brief summary of the material,
followed by a paragraph critiquing it. If they aren’t old enough to write well
yet, ask them leading questions and have a brief conversation.
I remember reading a story to
my niece on her front porch last year, and I would stop periodically throughout
the story, asking things like, “Did that little girl in the story make a good
decision?” followed by “Why?” or “Why not?” As we talked she was able to
identify biblical truths that applied to the circumstances in the story. Even
better, a day or two later when my niece was heading toward a misbehavior
situation, I reminded her of the girl in the story and she was able to recall
how that might apply to her current dilemma. Use your family reading choices to
help train your children in biblical living.
Regard it as a biblical discipline
The proverbs are replete with
instruction for wisdom. And that wisdom is gained by reading, studying and
meditating on the word of God. Similarly, in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, parents are
advised to pass on this wisdom to their offspring:
“And these words
that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You
shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you
sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when
you rise. 8 You
shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between
your eyes. 9 You
shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
One of the best ways we learn
is by reading and repeating. So if you desire for your children to know and
love scripture, and be able to apply it to all of life, they must grow up in an
atmosphere where reading is practiced regularly. Readwiththem, readtothem, and ask them toretellthe story to you.
Reading may not always be fun,
and the more we neglect it as a regular discipline, the less fun it will be.
But it can be eternally rewarding, leading a child to a redemptive
understanding of God. Children ought to view reading as a normal part of their
daily lives. There are many more considerations and resources we could pursue,
but for now, go home and start reading with your kiddos!