Glenn and I recently read One Nation, by Dr. Ben Carson. There were many impressive things about the life of this presidential candidate. One early factor that influenced Dr. Carson was the fact that his mother (left), who was illiterate, decided early on that Ben and his brother were to read two books each week and submit to her a written report on those books. Now, she could not read those reports, but they did not know that. She put checkmarks all over them and underlined passages within them and they were convinced that she was reading them carefully. At first, the boys hated doing this task; one that was required before they could enjoy leisure activities. But soon, as books tend to do, those stories of heroism, adventure and far-away places drew them in. The more they read, the more they wanted to read…and know. Dr. Carson credits this reading requirement, made by a diligent mother, who could not read herself, with his decision to become a physician.
It’s sad to me that, in so many cases today, reading has been replaced by video games, television and iPhones. Kids today can hardly believe that, only about three decades ago, if we wanted
to know about someone or about some historical event, we traveled to the library and looked through some drawers with cards that listed and organized the thousands of books in the building. From the directions on those cards, we could find the books on the library shelves. We then chose several relevant books to take home and we poured through those books till we found the information that we wanted to know. Then we made a trip to return the books. When our kids want to know something, they press the reset button on their phones until Siri says, “How may I help you?”.
But something is missing when all of our questions are answered by Siri or even by typing a key word in a search bar. So often the search engine takes us to the answer to the specific query but we bypass all the peripheral knowledge that we accessed in the “old days” during the search. The search was the goldmine of knowledge and, yes…even wisdom. As Dr. Carson saw, the “answers” to life might not be on the particular page to which that search engine speeds.
So, today, I want to encourage you moms to be sure your kids are surrounded by books. Read to them and do so with enthusiasm. Put expression into the “voices” you use for various characters. Be sure the books are wholesome and pure and that the books that are non-fiction really are NON-fiction (not historically revised or politically corrected). Take them to the local library at times when you do not have to be rushed and spend time helping them choose books. Make sure they even have a list of rules about how to care for books and that they properly care for and return borrowed books. (The Mr. Wiggle series of books by Paula Craig and Carol Thompson might be helpful for young children.) In general, teach them that books are treasures. Of course, it’s okay to do research online, but your kids will benefit from loving books, too…the kind they can carry around with them and pass along to their children and grandchildren one day.
This year, the girls in the West Huntsville church, as a part of their Lads to Leaders participation, are being given the opportunity to complete the Information Resources section of the Keepers at Home program. Each student will collect and organize (or locate) a minimum of twenty books (digital and/or hardcopy) including recipe books, literary classics, Bible resource books, and children’s literature. This collection of resources must be seen and approved by a Keepers mentor. This “library” will be used at least once during the year in (a) entertaining young children without pay while their parents are working in a church-related activity or (b) conducting a Bible study with a non-Christian or a new Christian.
Of course, meeting this goal will not make these girls voracious readers, but at least it’s a baby step in their personal library development. I’m grateful to Peggy Coulter for volunteering to oversee this “book collecting” activity. I know the girls will benefit from actually using their libraries to bring glory to our Father in our congregation.
Perhaps, even if your church is not doing the Lads program, you can develop a similar program to foster a love of books and a willingness to use books to accomplish great things in His vineyard. I’m thankful our children are being trained in the Lads to Leaders Program (www.lads2leaders.com) and especially for the Keepers at Home portion of the program as well as it’s counterpart for boys called, simply, Providers.