How to Introduce Books and the Importance of Reading to your kids.

We want to talk about books. If you guys have been listening, you know that Jeff and I are really into books and how they can not only shape our hearts and heads as men and as fathers, but also how to introduce those to our kids. Jeff and I have talked about this framework that he’s really thought through for his kids as he introduced his books to them. I thought it’d be really helpful for you guys to hear. So Jeff, what are some ways that you guys think about how to categorize books and how to introduce books to your kids at the ages that they’re at?

Yeah, so we have toddlers right now, and I think it’s deeply important to, another way to put it is, first of all, read books. Read them all the time, read out loud, put audio books in the car, read it the couch after dinner. Just read, read, read. You should read yourself. ad out loud to the kids. Give them books when there’s nothing else to do, even when they can’t read, they can point at the pictures, etc. There are so many immense benefits that research has shown.

On top of that, though, yeah, we like to have what we like to call a well-balanced diet of things we’re putting in front of our kids, because parents are in control, especially at the toddler age, of what’s in front of their eyeballs. And so we put a well-balanced food pyramid in front of them.

So then the three kinds of frameworks that we try to think of is: liturgical, story and funny. We try to keep it simple, because we have toddlers. So the liturgical one, for those who are not in a high church tradition, maybe of the Catholic tradition, whatever it is, essentially, that just means repeatable religious things, doing something over and over again.

So, basically what that means is, I think it’s very important, especially at the toddler age, and we do this very poorly in the evangelical church, I think to our detriment, because we’re so afraid of legalism since the 1500’s of the reformation is creeds, is prayers, is, by the way, when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he gave them a liturgical prayer. It’s like, “Do this.” He spelled it out. He didn’t just say, “Let the spirit lead,” he said, “No, say this. Okay, you’re done. Right?”

And so I think, actually, because here’s the thing, guys, you might be kind of scared of that and think it’s overly religious, or it’s overly legalistic, while at the end of the day you are liturgical, because we’re liturgical animals. You just do it with Apple, and Steve Jobs, and your phone, maybe not with Christian stuff, right? You pull out your phone in a very liturgical way, right? You pull it out every single morning at a certain time. Jews pray three times a day, and you pull out your phone 722 times a day. You’re both liturgical.

And so, there’s a big deal. It’s the same thing. And so I just say, why not? And here’s another way to put it too, try to tell the government that letter G is not powerful. And they’ll just say, “Oh yeah, by the way, that’s why we actually do the pledge of allegiance every single day in every single school all the time,” right? Even though no one really cares about it, but yet it deeply, deeply forms… I’m saying a third grader doesn’t really know what they’re doing, but it deeply forms you, deeply forms you, and so do that kind of stuff with Christian things.

So we do that in our family. We have books that are prayers, that are repeatable, that are memorizable. We have books that are the creeds, etc.

What’s an example of a book like that?

So the Book of Common Prayer is a really good one. If you guys don’t know that book, that’s the Anglican, it’s an Anglican prayer manual.

And you can read it with your kids? Like, you read a section and…?

Yeah, it’s intense and, what’s the best way? Intimidating, but google can help you just… There’s like, “How to do Book of Common Prayer with a family,” and there’s only a couple of pages in there and yeah, there’s, it’s an 800 page book, but we only read from four pages, and it’s a “repeat after me” thing. The kids say it. We do it at breakfast. We also do this creed called the Beloved Creed, from Bobby Schuller, who I’ve told you guys about. You can google that.

There’s a bunch of different examples, but there’s a lot of books, like prayers and stuff like that. If you just search “Christian prayers for kids”, the Book of Common Prayers has a whole section on families, a bunch of stuff.

The second one is story. This one’s really easy and I’ll keep it short. Just, imagination is huge and creativity is huge. Get stories in front of your kids that talk about the hero’s journey. Talk about good and evil, talk about redemption, talk about renewal of all things, all these things. The Bible is a great place to start with that, by the way.

And then the last one is funny, we just want books to be hilarious. We want them to be entertaining. Dragons Love Tacos is our kid’s favorite, because it’s hilarious and because we hate spicy food. But yeah. So, I don’t know if anything stands out there, but anything you think of, ways you thought through this, either now with older kids, or earlier?

No, I love that. I love that you think about that. I just heard one the other day, a guy named Marty Sullivan mentioned that every Shabbat, every Sabbath day, his little kids recite this little liturgy that says, “we rest, we play, no work, because God loves us. We rest, we play, no work because God loves us.”

I love that. But that’s exactly it!

Honestly, I agree. Super simple…

Repeat it. Repeat it. Repeat it.

Yeah, I think that’s really good. Yeah. Stories, we’re huge into Dr Seuss, other really interesting books. So yeah, I would have them around the house, have your kids pick them up, figure out what their favorite is, let them choose different books. See what they’re attached to. There are so… This is such a powerful way to shape the culture of your home and get to engage with what your kids are starting to really get into, what themes they’re really resonating with. So yeah, good, powerful, awesome stories, liturgies. That’s an awesome way to engage your kids, and definitely recommend you guys have a framework. I love “liturgy, story, funny”. Yeah. Pick up books in each category. That’s great.

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