Recently I offered free books to parents who could explain the most creative ways they have used to train their children to read and to appreciate books. I’ve chosen three finalists: Brett, Deb, and Lisa.
The first entry in the “Train up a child in the way he should read” contest comes from Brett:
I used a mix of reverse psychology, play acting, and simple quizzing while reading to our children before bedtime.
I would start with the book out on my lap and tell them to never learn to read because there is too much silly fun stuff and too much cuddly cozy stuff in books and that I was going to stop reading anything anymore that’s it—goodnight. After the giggles and goading to get me to read just a few minutes (a game for the kids and me), I would start into one of a handful of books or Bible stories that they knew backward and forwards, over acting all the parts. I would change names of characters, the sex of characters, the qualities of characters, or change the story completely (i.e. Jesus road into Bethlehem on a penguin with his brother Mary on Thanksgiving day). After some giggle/snorts they would correct me and nearly recite the rest of the story.
After a while, I would make so many gaffs in the story, they would crawl right up beside me to the point it was hard to read so they could look on to make sure I was reading it right. By kindergarten, all of our children could read those books even though they couldn’t read; those sentences in those books made sense but they couldn’t pick up Green Eggs and Ham and start reading. Even though they are beyond the bedtime story age, they savor the story of Esther and also the Runaway Bunny (which is written for a two year olds).
I am a horrible reader, a worse actor, and have a poor imagination, but it worked. Although not all my children love to read like I do, they all love to write and create stories and read faster and better than I do. I know this will not work for everyone, but we happened upon a bedtime system that worked for our little sinners. But if you have daughters and sons together, Esther right out of the Bible is always a home run.
Winners will be contacted via email on Wednesday. Thanks for the entry, Brett.