I’m going to go ahead and tell you that I am a bookworm DELUXE. I am the child who would pass up almost any activity to pick up my latest adventure or do a crossword puzzle. Yes, I know, this is why I married an athlete so that we can achieve some level of balance in the offspring. 🙂 I can remember as a six or seven year old lying in bed reading at all hours until someone realized I was still awake as I went through the Anne of Green Gables series, In Grandma’s Attic, Little Women, Dr. Dolittle…and my list of friends grew and grew. Of all the education I want to give my children, a love for reading is high on that list because it leads to all other learning. If you love to read you can research any topic, explore what others have discovered on any subject, and have your eyes opened to parts of creation or times in history that you might never experience any other way. Kids don’t need to memorize important dates, they need to meet the people who lived in those times so that those dates stick in their heads just like the birthday of someone they love. They need learning that is alive in their minds and allows them to participate. That is why for John V’s pre-K through 1st grade, we chose to focus our “school time” almost exclusively on character, phonics, handwriting, and basic math. I wanted that reading foundation solid before we tried too many other subjects. Then, after the small amounts of time that it took to accomplish that work each day, we read books. If he was interested in something, I tried to encourage that interest. We read amazing stories of boyish adventurers with strong character. We watched videos that brought historical figures to life. Before we ever started any official history, he made me laugh because he saw a picture of Benjamin Franklin somewhere and acted like he had just seen Justin Bieber or something. Franklin fever? 😉 “MOM, it’s BENJAMIN FRANKLIN! I know him!” I loved that response, “I know him.” That showed me that it was working and he is beginning to experience the joy I felt in discovering these new worlds opening up. And now as we continue with more subjects and diversity in our work this year, reading is still the major core of our education. Reading is lifelong delight.
There is, however, one book that I do not ever want to encourage my children to only “read” and that is the Bible. I recently heard a wise man talking on this subject and how we want to greatly differentiate with our children between the “reading” of a normal book and the interaction and relationship that comes with diving into the living Word. Obviously, I don’t think it’s crucial to argue the semantics of using the actual word “read,” but the point is that our children should understand the difference in our approach to this and other books. Do we choose a passage each day, tell them to sit still, get through it, and then close the Bible with a “Whew! We made it!” mentality, or do we open the Word, ask God to speak to us, discuss what He is telling us, and then expect our kids to hear from Him? Do we actually believe that our kids will hear from Him when they read the Bible? That is probably the most important question here. I do. I believe Heb. 4:12 – “…The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” I believe He is ready and willing to speak to us EVERY, SINGLE time we listen. He might speak to us of what is clogging our ears and making it difficult to hear, or speak to us of disobedience or attitudes cutting us off from open relationship. He might speak to us of relationships that need to be mended so we can return free to worship. He might take words we have read hundreds or even thousands of times and make them the most life-changing experience we have had. But I believe He will speak and just get ready for the things He speaks to your kids. Fasten your seat belts. We are currently going through the gospels, and it is like a fresh breeze to hear their precious, innocent, faith-filled hearts discovering more and more about the Jesus they love.
I am eternally grateful for the love of reading instilled in me by wise parents. Memories of my dad reading the biographies of George Mueller or Isaac Newton or the story of Robinson Crusoe to us at night are among my warmest and fuzziest, but far above that I am grateful that I was shown that the Word of God is active. That we are not meant to peruse it and walk away. That it is not just a door to adventure or the expanding of our minds but is the Hand of God reaching out in relationship to us. I hope that my children will love to read books, but I pray that they will grab hold of the life-giving sustenance in the Bible as if their very lives depended on it…because they do.