Monday, April 11, 2011

It's not *just* about the book.

We all know the importance of reading to our children and reading with our children.  There are no doubts about the benefits, BUT have you considered the importance of you reading for your own sake, as well as, your children's benefit?

I know, I know.  Like you're supposed to find time to read.  The truthful answer is, "Yes." 

First, I'll mention the reason as it relates to your children.  That might be enough to spur some of you on. 

Think about it.  We're trying to teach them to read and enjoy reading, but they never see us read for our own pleasure or knowledge.  Hmmmm....what would we call it if we teach one thing but don't do it....hmmmmm....could it be....HYPOCRITICAL!!?!?!  (Sorry, Church Lady just broke through.)   Many studies have shown the benefit of children seeing their parents reading.  HERE is just one source.  (It's out of Canada, eh?)

So, we need to read our own personal stuff personally to help set an example for our children.  Did you realize when you were getting into this parenting thing how much of what you do and don't do, say and don't say, believe and don't believe would be an example for your children?  No pressure there.

Now, I will go where none of us have gone before....or at least not as much as we did before we had children.   READING FOR OUR OWN BENEFIT/PLEASURE.   Yes, I said it.  We need to find some time to read. 

There are many lists that speak of the benefits of reading.  One is at Persistence Unlimited.  I'm just going to share a few of the advantages the site lists.

1. Reading is an active mental process – Unlike TV, books make you to use your brain. By reading, you think more and become smarter. [OK, Suess's tongue twisters can be an active mental process, but not so much Brown Bear, Brown Bear.]

7. Improves memory – Many studies show if you don’t use your memory, you lose it. Crossword puzzles are an example of a word game that staves off Alzheimer’s. Reading, although not a game, helps you stretch your memory muscles in a similar way. Reading requires remembering details, facts and figures and in literature, plot lines, themes and characters.  [I don't know about others...but I need to work on retaining all the memory I can.  Someone said that the memory is the first to go.  I don't remember who said it, but somebody did!]

9. Learn anywhere – Books are portable. You can take them almost anywhere. As such, you can learn almost anywhere too.  [I've done a lot of great reading during gymnastics and ballet practice.]

11. Gives you something to talk about – Have you ever run out of stuff to talk about with your best friend, wife or husband? This can be uncomfortable. It might even make married couples wonder if their marriage is in trouble. However, if you read a lot of books, you’ll always have something to talk about. You can discuss various plots in the novels you read, you can discuss the stuff you are learning in the business books you are reading as well. The possibilities of sharing are endless.  [Wow!  You mean you can talk to your husband about something rather than the kids?  Who knew?]

12. Books are inexpensive entertainment – What’s the average price of a movie ticket these days? $8 – $10? You can buy a paperback for that price and be entertained for many hours more. If you have a used bookstore nearby, you can get them even cheaper.  [Cheap?  What about free?  Donde esta la biblioteca?]

17. Saves money – Apart from saving money on entertainment expenses. Reading books that help you develop your skills saves money. Reading books on how someone went bankrupt will be a warning to you against repeating their mistakes. Reading a book on how to build your own backyard deck saves the expense of hiring a contractor.  [Cha Ching!]

20. Decreased boredom [OK, maybe boredom is not an issue at this point.]

23. Reduces stress - Many avid readers (including me) unwind by reading... [Calgon and C.S. Lewis take me away.]

26. The book is always better than the movie.  [I have found very few exceptions to this.]

So, the question becomes how.  How do I make time?  What I do is use a form of accountability.  My church offers a wonderful book group lead by my friend Susan.  We read selected chapters out of a non-fiction Christian book every week.  We then meet and  go over the discussion questions. 

It's much more than just reading a book, however.  We do prayer requests and aren't afraid just follow a few rabbit trails if it means more fellowship or deeper growth.  It's the only place where one can jump from discussing the hypostatic union to hormones and hysterectomy within the space of 5 minutes and attempt not to wet your pants laughing while doing it.

All this to say, that if I didn't know I was going to be meeting with this group of ladies each week, I probably wouldn't find as much time to read. 

Here's the kicker!  Susan has started a website with all the books and the questions we've done.  The site is Susan's Book Group.  It could be a great resource if you'd like some questions for your own reading or maybe even starting a group yourself.  That could be a cool idea.  What an example would that set?  A few moms getting together to discuss a book while their kids play. 

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