A couple of weeks ago, I read an interesting article about how a parent’s reading (or lack there of) impacts whether or not a child grows into a “reader”.
Now I’ll be honest here… my parents never had to make me read.
I was so lost in the world of Caddie Woodlawn, Laura Wilder, Anne Shirley, and Nancy Drew that they had to make rules about when I was not allowed read.
And on the flip side, my crazy parents (smile) would PAY my brother to read. Can you even imagine?
And guess what Jason and I did last summer?
We paid our kids to read.
We rewarded our children who read with cash.
Our rational was– we value reading. Parents pay for all sorts of things to occupy their children in the summertime. We don’t tend to take a lot of trips or sign up for a lot of camps, so paying them per book felt worthwhile to us. I created a bookshelf of reading options that I gathered over the year from Goodwill and garage sales or already had on hand and then they chose one (or more) book off the shelves to read per week. So over the summer, they read a minimum of 12 books.
Our family has a mix of naturally inclined readers and– not so much naturally inclined.
Ironically, the one who is closest to me when it comes to reading is our daughter with dyslexia. She loves, loves, loves to read and that makes my heart soar!
But with a couple of the others, last summer’s
bribery reward was a needed motivator.
And I really do think a person can become a “reader”. There are times when I read less, or almost not at all, and then with renewed vigor I pursue books again.
But I was mulling over the reasons that people don’t read and I think often one hurdle is that they think there is a set way to read and that if they can’t follow that pattern, it’s not worth moving forward. So in the hopes that if you happen to be someone hitting that road block, I want to share my reading rules.
Kara’s Reading Rules (for HERSELF):
1) Never feel obligated to finish a book if I don’t like it (time is too scarce).
2) Don’t try to make myself enjoy a book just because it’s popular in ratings or because people I admire think it’s great.
3) Usually have 3-5 books going at the same time so I can read depending on my mood.
4) Make sure one of my current book options is “brain candy” or a YA light fiction.
5) Read with a pen or pencil in hand and don’t be afraid to dog-ear pages and underline. (It makes a book look loved and helps me stay focused.)
6) Read a mixture of nonfiction and fiction. Don’t get stuck in a nonfiction rut (or vice versa).
7) Read to build relationships. I often try to read what our children or special friends are reading so that we can talk about the books together.
8) Don’t feel bad about skimming sometimes. There is nothing sacrilegious about reading the end of a book either. If I want to know how a twaddle-book ends, but don’t want to spend time reading the whole thing, I allows myself to do this. And sometimes the final pages are good enough that I end up reading the whole book.
9) Keep a book in the car, by the bed, on the treadmill, by the couch, and in my bag so that if I have a spare ten minutes I can pick it up and read.
10) Don’t let lack of time be an excuse. (I know. I hear the groans on this one, but I think we can all admit that we find many, many, many ways to squander our minutes. You don’t need an uninterrupted hour to be a reader, just ten minutes here or there.)
I share these personal guidelines because really they are– freedoms.
And I think people sometimes get intimidated by the “unspoken rules” that they think readers follow and it becomes a block to just picking up a book to…read.
Books I finished in the past few weeks:
The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard— by Kara Tippetts
I started reading this book in Costco and as tears splattered the cover, I quickly knew it was one that I’d need to read at home. Kara, a mama to four and wife to Jason, shares her journey of drawing close to God in the midst of devastating tragedy, stage IV cancer. She doesn’t gloss over the heartache and fear, steers clear of trite answers and platitudes, is vulnerable in sharing her battle with fear and losing control and gently pulled my heart to a deeper place of trust in God who loves us and is with us no matter how painful the circumstances. Kara is currently home on hospice…in the final stages of the battle with cancer and I continue to follow her journey because while the grief weighs heavy, her eyes continue to search for God’s goodness in the land of the living while she waits assured of the promise of Heaven.
Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices— Mosab Yousef
This book was one I absolutely could not put down! Mosab grew up the son of a Hamas founder and insider, but while working as a double agent for the Israeli Shin Bet, his Saul-to-Paul conversion completely transforms this man of terror into one who longs to show the world a way to real peace. I appreciated the way Mosab steered clear of caricatures. He invokes empathy for all involved, but also points out the undeniable evil on all sides that can only be overcome by Christ. If you decide to read this book, make sure you find the most recent printing because the end notes are powerful and give an update to his current scenario. *This book does contain some hard-to-read, but very realistic, descriptions of torture and terror. If you are local, we have the movie/documentary “The Green Prince” that is based on this book and I would be happy to loan it out.
The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship— Jonathan Holmes
One of my dearest friends gave me this book for my birthday and it is well-written, balanced and presents both a biblical view of the “why” of friendship as well as offers practical suggestions for the “how”. This topic is close to my heart because I so often come in contact with those who are longing for friendship. This book is a fast read and a great place to start if you want to grow in this area.
The Brothers K— David James Duncan
I read this book for three reasons: it is set in Oregon and Washington, several people I really enjoy include this in their list of all-time-favorite books, and because I initially had it confused with The Brothers Karamazov (800 pages of Dostoevsky) and I was relieved that it was a different book. I started it in the fall, put it down because the print was too tiny and the book was way too thick for Thanksgiving-Christmas-time and then picked it up again a couple of weeks ago. I’ll be honest; it wasn’t my favorite book. I kept thinking, what am I missing? I don’t love this. But as I dug deeper into the book, the characters grew more and more real for me. I thought about them when I wasn’t reading. I wrestled with their dilemmas and heartaches and regrets and struggles. And even now, I still am thinking about the book. So, while I’m not sure if I exactly recommend this book, I do think the writing is some of the best I’ve ever read. I wish I’d read it in an academic or book club setting with weekly opportunities to discuss and process. I probably will want to read this one again eventually.
New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional— Paul David Tripp
I started this book in January because it’s a daily devotional and each morning look forward to these daily gospel reminders. It’s organized by date, so it’d be easy to pick it up and start with– tomorrow.
Once an Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life— Tass Saada
I was telling my husband all about this incredible true story last night– a PLO sniper, who was once Arafat’s driver, who met Jesus in one of the most miraculous conversion accounts I’ve ever heard. I don’t want to give away too many details, but I was completely amazed by his journey and how God is currently using him to “transform hatred into love and hope.” This book was less “on edge spy-thriller” than Son of Hamas, but it left me choked up by the goodness of a God who pursues and redeems.
Books I am currently reading:
No Greater Love— Levi Benkert
I’m about half way through this powerful book about a family’s willingness to drop everything and move to Ethiopia to help run and organize a rescue orphanage for children labeled “mingi” (who due to tribal superstitions would otherwise be murdered). Our oldest daughter read this book because it came recommended after Kisses from Katie, which she absolutely loved and has read multiple times. The willingness of this family to obey no matter the cost is both challenging and convicting!
Rebecca– Daphne du Maurier
This was one of my favorite books as a teen and so I’ve decided to read it again to remember why I liked it so much!
Look and Live: Behold the Soul-Thrilling, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ— Matt Papa
This book came recommended by my friend Joy and I usually appreciate anything she recommends. I’m only two chapters in, but so far appreciate the focus on how “love for God grows out of an experience of beholding the love of God” –J.D. Greear. I’m not far enough into it to really weigh in with a hearty recommendation, but so far it has been excellent.
Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds— Jen Wilkin
I’ve had this book for months and have been wanting to finish it, but am just now really getting into it. I want to take seriously the studying of God’s Word and that’s what this book is about. Over the years, I’ve appreciated many articles written by Jen Wilkin so it’s no surprise that this book is also very worth reading.
Wonder— R.J. Palacio
A recent Facebook comment by my sister-in-law reminded me that I have been wanting to read this book. At least two of our older children read it last year and appreciated it very much. And after her FB comment that it should be required reading for everyone, adults included, because “if you haven’t read Wonder (Palacio), you are missing out on one of the best books EVER!” I knew it needed to make this next month’s list.
I also forgot to mention that I was over at The Better Mom last Friday for a little walk down a “worst” memory lane…if you have time for more reading, would love to have you join me over there!
P.S. What are you reading these days?