I admit it. I have an ulterior motive for writing this column. I have a personal agenda. Yes, some would even call it a conflict of interest. In the next 500 words, I will try to do everything I can to create more readers. Since I write books, I want many readers. The more people I turn into avid readers, the more books I sell. You can see the conflict.
The two most powerful influences in our lives are the people we associate with and the books we read. Unlike passively watching movies or TV shows, reading books actively involves the whole mind, both emotion and intellect over an extended time. We can’t control who we meet, but we can certainly choose which books we expose our minds to.
Jo and I wanted our daughters to love reading, so we took them on our laps and read picture books to them before they could even talk. As they played on the floor, I would read funny stories to Jo and as we laughed together, our girls would look up and connect reading with fun.
We did the same thing with our grandchildren. One time we sat down with their parents and tape-recorded ourselves reading some fairy tales like, The Three Little Pigs, and Three Billy Goats Gruff, each of us taking different parts. The grandkids loved it! Would you believe that Tyler, now 20 years old and in seminary, told us he still has his tape and enjoyed it recently?
I read to our daughters on Family Nights even after they could read themselves. When they became teenagers we listed the great books we wanted them to read and paid them when they finished a book. I had many good talks with them about the books they read. I told the full story in A Kick in the Pants.
A father of four teenage sons recently wrote me an email saying, “I read your ‘pay them to read’ story and thought I’d try this with our boys encouraging them to read through the entire Bible.” All of his boys started reading, one sometimes listening to a narrator reading it through his smartphone. His youngest son is on a two-year plan, but one completed the project in three months!
During the months Jo was in recovery from several hip surgeries, she sometimes woke up at night with pain and spasms. She found listening to Scripture on her mp3 player had a calming effect. I have listened to many books on CD while driving, and now listen to books on my mp3 player.
“I used to read about one book a month,” a friend told me as we chatted after church. “But in the past two or three weeks I’ve read seven books”. Whoa! I thought. That is double what I’ve read. And I consider myself an avid reader.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Simple, I bought an ebook reader.”
He then explained that he used to read only business related books, but now loads up his reader with a wide variety of books. He carries his ebook reader in his pocket and pulls it out to read whenever he has a few minutes, switching between genres according to his mood.
More readers, reading more. I love it! Reading more is good for you. . . . and for me.
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