With March 2nd having been both Read Across America Day and World Book Day, I’m sure that there will have been great emphasis put on the importance of reading to small children by this month’s end. Or if you have children who can already read, you may be more aware of the societal emphasis that encourages the use of their reading skills. But you’re a proactive parent and mentor. I know because you are taking the time to read this article. As that kind of parent, should you care what your children read?
Understand that I am not speaking of censorship issues. I am speaking of under-utilization of a great skill and blessing. Why do I say a great skill and blessing? I’ve been told that some states plan their future prison occupancy rates based on how many children read on grade level in elementary school. That’s scary! Perhaps you can’t get your kids to read. Or perhaps they read nothing but tabloid teen magazines. Either way . . . how would you like to persuade your children to read something that would really prepare them for life? How would you like to help them learn the things you “wish you had known?”
Now I can’t take the credit for the idea because I’ve borrowed it from another author that I’ve read, heard speak, and am thankful to have met in person, John Maxwell. He says he never gave his children spending money. He didn’t even pay them an allowance for doing chores because that was part of their responsibility as members of the household. He believed that no member of the household should be paid for doing their share. He did pay him to read!
I know. At first, I was somewhat disconcerted by the concept too. But, Maxwell’s children had to do more than just “read” a book to get paid. They had to read a book of their father’s choosing, write a report on it, and discuss it with their father. Wow! What would it be worth to have your children share your ideals, the character you strive for, the dreams you aspire to achieve? Instead of having their heads filed with the thoughts of their peers, or the media, or some professor’s ideology, why not inspire them to learn what you believe is important. The vessel of your child’s mind will be filled. Regardless of the beliefs you have, do you really want to leave the filling of your child’s mind in the hands of someone else?
Christopher Morley said, “When you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life.” I believe that’s true. “ Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6. Also, model for your children what you want for them to become. Let them see you read. Let them ask you what you are reading and then talk with them about it. Deuteronomy 6:7 speaks about teaching your children what is important. It says, “Talk about them (commandments or character concepts) when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” I don’t believe there’s a greater way to create a family legacy than sharing your ideals with your children. Perhaps a good way to start the conversation is by discussing the thoughts of a book of your choosing!