If you have school aged children or grandchildren you have heard the constant push. While in school, children are required to read every day, there are special “reading events”, and there is state and national testing done to evaluate how they are doing.
Despite these efforts children (and adults) still struggle terribly with reading proficiently and many certainly don't enjoy it. You know all of this already; you hear it all school year long. So what is my point? Here is the issue. When someone can’t (or won’t) read, the Devil does a happy dance. He loves the fact that fewer and fewer people are able to read and that most would prefer to pick up a remote control than a book. The last thing they will want to do is pick up a Bible!
Why grab a huge book with confusing chapter titles and odd words that could potentially make you feel stupid? The Bible will be seen as an undesirable object to avoid. What a terrible way to think about the Word of God that discloses the path to eternal life.
How are they to learn about the about the promises of God, the history of his people, the story of Jesus and what that means for him or her today? How are they to relate to the 119th Psalm of David as he proclaims his love for the word of God with lines like these:
“I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (11)
“Give me life according to your word!” (25)
“Strengthen me according to your word!” (28)
“I hope in your word.” (81)
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (105)
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” (130)
How will your children see Jesus clearly if their eyes are not enlightened by the word of God?
Now parents, no pointing fingers at teachers, the education system or even your own child. The responsibility is squarely on your shoulders (yep, mine too). First learn to accept that fact and then figure out what you are going to do about it. Please don’t wait for the “system” to train your child to love to read. That’s like expecting them to teach them values too.
Read to your children and read with your children. Let them see you reading and doing so in your free time (not as an obligation). Many children don't like to read because their parents don't like to read. If this is the issue, time to retrain yourself, get help if you need it. It’s okay if you aren’t a great reader or you are a slow reader. Your children will delight in the effort you are putting forward and will be encouraged themselves to keep reading no matter what.
Get excited about reading, visit the library or book store and grab a great classic to dig into together. Visit Narnia with C. S. Lewis, the Shire with Tolkien or travel along with a brave missionary in a foreign land with Benges. Allow each of these to spur conversations about the ultimate story of Jesus Christ found in the ultimate book of all time, the Bible. Then open the Bible together too.
If we want our children to know Christ and be fully equipped to serve him, we must train them to be readers. I understand some truly do have limitations, and other sources should be sought out (i.e. audio versions), but the vast majority just need a Bible in hand and be taught how to read it. The Word of God in the hands of a Reader is a mighty weapon. I enCOURAGE you to train your children to wield it with passion.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9.