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How can I encourage my child to read?

1 September 2012 | by Tirzah Jones

How can I encourage my child to read?

Reading has always been my passion. Growing up I could usually be found somewhere in the house with ‘my nose in a book.’ Not always helpful if you’re supposed to be washing up or tidying your room! Today however, we live in a very digital age, where for children, reading is becoming less and less fashionable. For the twenty-first-century child it’s the X-box, Wii or iPod. So, how can we encourage children to read, especially good Christian books? Being able to establish a passion for reading at an early age is likely to spur them on to read the Bible for themselves, especially as they get older. When some adults are converted they find it difficult to have a regular Bible reading because they have never been in the habit of reading anything.

Engendering enthusiasm

Children feed off others’ enthusiasm so it might be good to get together with a few other parents in church and start a ‘book club’ where you pass books around and perhaps operate a rewards system based on how many books they have read. This would hopefully spark an enthusiasm which would then fuel independent reading. If you don’t have others you can share with then you could have a similar ‘rewards’ concept at home.

I’m sure that a lot of my interest in books came from the fact that I grew up in a household full of books. My parents love reading and seeing them read a good Christian book was commonplace for me. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is of seeing my mum every morning, sitting in the lounge reading and having her ‘quiet time’. Children will naturally learn from what they see their parents do. If mum and dad don’t read why should they?

What to look for:

  • An attractive cover (I know, never judge a book by its cover but that’s what children do!)
  • Easy to read print
  • An exciting  title that grabs the imagination
  • An author or publisher you trust – it’s essential that you trust the teaching
  • A series they have read before and enjoyed

At Day One we are thrilled by the prospect of being able to introduce some good quality and exciting books for children. We are therefore, launching a new series of books called Faith Finders. With this in mind we have a twofold aim; to introduce children to the gospel and to do so through appropriate and interesting stories.

Faith Finders

We have recently published the first two in this series. The Mystery of the Deserted House by Mary Weeks Millard.

Spike, Joe and Matt are playing their usual ball game when they find the deserted house. The gate is rusty, the grass is overgrown, there is a half-built extension, and an old Land Rover is abandoned in the garden. The boys are intrigued and, over time start to explore the rooms inside. But the more time they spend there, the more mysterious they find it, and their exploration of the house eventually leads them into danger. What is the secret of the mystery house, and why did its owners leave it like this?

A delighted customer told me recently that whilst having her five grandchildren to stay for a week she had read them a chapter a night and they loved it! Jacob aged thirteen read the book and said:

This book is all about three boys who are best friends and who will do anything for each other. In this story they find a deserted house and they start to investigate to try and find out why it is deserted. Along the way they have their troubles but they have good times as well. One of the boys goes to church and he was bullied about that in his school but his friends stuck up for him and even they started to go and found that church was not boring but something that was fun. They eventually go to a Christian camp and the boys start to know more about God and what it is like to be a Christian.

The second book is called Never give up on your dreams.

Six year old Gabrielle’s swimming instructor realises that she has a natural talent and arranges for her to have extra swimming coaching. Through her dedication and self-discipline and with the support of her family and especially her granny, Gabrielle gets better and better, and everyone thinks that she will soon be able to compete in the Olympics. She dreams of winning an Olympic gold. But one day, disaster strikes. What will happen to her Olympic dreams now?

Cherith aged eleven read this book and said:

Gabrielle has a bright future ahead of her, using the special gift God has given her.  Then all of a sudden her life takes a completely different direction to what she has planned and dreamed about, but through it all she comes to know God and learns that God is in control even though her plans have been changed.

When I started the book, I thought it was for younger readers because the main character was only six years old but I soon realised that she grows up throughout the story and by the end of the book she is about twelve. I liked the way real places are mentioned that would be familiar to many people, and Gabrielle and her family are ordinary people.

I think the characters in this book show courage and determination. The story shows how faith in God changes any situation for the better, and that no matter how bad things may seem God has a better plan than we could ever dream of.

It is really important that children learn the importance of good Christian literature at a young age. If they begin by reading interesting books then as they grow older they will develop a taste for more substantial and stimulating reading matter such as Christian biographies, devotional and Bible commentaries.

It is not an easy option to get children to read who are not really interested, but if you teach and show them its importance by working together as a family, it becomes less of a chore and more of a fun thing to do.

Tirzah L. Jones is Director of Day One Youth Ministries.