How did you learn to drive a car? From suddenly picking up a manual, skimming it and then hopping in for a test drive? Maybe some of you did, in fact, do that.

That dent in the garage door is till there isn’t it? 

If you’re like most of us, you observed your parent’s driving habits for many years, perhaps without even realizing it. You wondered how they made the turn signal come on while slowing down the car at the same time. You saw what you could see and concluded that driving wasn’t so difficult after all. It’s the same way with reading to your children.

Study after study has simply reinforced what common sense tells us — we do what we see done.

Do as I say…

I recall my uncle once trying to teach me how to make the bowling ball hook when I threw it. You know, in that cool way that pro bowlers magically do. He told me how to place my fingertips just so to make it curve just like the pros. He told me just how to release it at the right time. I thought I had it — until I watched him do it. He didn’t do it at all like he was telling me to do it.

When I asked him why he didn’t do it the way he was telling me to do it, he laughed and said, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

I don’t bowl now.  I’m not blaming it on him, of course. But I never did figure out how to make it hook  like he did. Bowling just isn’t as much fun when the pins don’t fall down.

Because reading is such a gateway to personal and spiritual growth, our children face a significant challenge in life if they’re not avid readers. Sure, they can still grow through other means. But it’s kind of like trying to play golf at Pebble Beach without a driver. You can till get around the course, but it’ll take you quite a few more shots. And you’ve got no chance of winning.

And isn’t reading rather important for people of faith who depend on the written Word for life direction?

Here are 5 reasons you should read to your children on a regular basis:

  1.  Children do as you do not as you say. We may not like it, but it’s true. Just telling them to read won’t mean anything unless they see and hear you do it.
  2. Children need to hear how to do it. Often children are afraid to fail — like all of us. They don’t pick up a book because they know they can’t do it perfectly. When they actually hear you reading — complete with imperfections — they realize that it’s OK to stumble at times.
  3. Children perceive priorities. If you take the time to read with them, you send a clear message that they are important to you. Note the synergy (Habit 6) at work here as you are both spending time as a family and educating them.
  4. Reading together opens doors. Some of the best discussions we’ve had as a family came as we talked about characters in a story we were reading. Stories give us hypothetical — and safe — ways to discuss the stuff of life.
  5. Reading is an interactive experience. Unlike television, reading forces interaction between parents and children. It prompts questions from your children, a habit you definitely want to encourage as they get older.

Not that it’s always easy. My next post will share a few tips and trick for HOW we do it. After failing miserably many times, we’ve actually figured out a method that has our children upset when we have to miss our scheduled time of reading.

What are some other reasons you can think of for reading to your children? Did your parents read with you? Leave a comment to share the growth.

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