Our library has a reading program that encourages parents to read 1,000 books to their children before they enter pre-school. It seems like an overwhelming number, doesn’t it? When you break it down, it actually doesn’t require a lot of the parent. Especially when reading the same book over and over counts as reading multiple books. (A must when you have toddlers who thrive on repetition).
As I’ve thought about this program and the value of reading to my children, I’ve been struck by how many biblical connections there are to the goodness of reading to our kids. Of course, studies show that the more you read to your children the better the fare. Reading encourages bonding as they snuggle up to you for a story. Reading encourages language development as they hear you talk and associate words with pictures. Reading encourages cognitive development as they remember things they see and hear. We can all agree that reading is good for kids (and adults).
But as Christians, it’s more than that. We know that God values words and reading, too. In a post-fall world, he gave us his very word to communicate with us. Faith in Christ and his finished work comes by hearing this word (Rom. 10:7). Without reading and hearing we are unable to know the God who made us and loves us. Without reading and hearing we are unable to understand the depths of Christ’s love for us displayed so clearly at the cross. Without reading and hearing we miss the triumphant victory of Christ’s defeat of death and our coming joy in heaven.
Of course, there are a variety of circumstances (many devastating) that prevent people from being able to read, hear, or comprehend this word. And I think, in God’s kindness, there is special grace for that. But, reading matters because words matter. God speaks to us through words. In an increasingly technology saturated society it is harder and harder to embrace and enjoy reading. We are so easily entertained that it is difficult to do the hard work of slowing down and reading something of value—or that’s more than 140 characters. But we must. And we must teach our children to do the same. Without a clear understanding of the value of reading and words, and the discipline to persevere when reading gets tough, we will all miss the treasure that is before us in God’s revealed word.
So I’ve signed the twins up for the 1,000 books reading plan, and we’ll see how it goes. While I want them to thrive in this world academically and socially through reading, I care more about the outcome of their souls. I want them come to a saving understanding of the faith that can only come by hearing—hearing the very words of God.