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What to Do with a Reluctant Reader

A tweet by Jules this morning reminded me of this old, old post, and I decided to repost it.

What do I mean by reluctant reader? A reluctant reader is a child who has reached 10 or 12 years old, who can read, but doesn’t enjoy reading on their own, a child who almost never picks up a book to read for pleasure. And yes, avid readers can produce reluctant readers; two of four of my children fell into this category.

Here are a few tips drawn from my experience:
  1. Take advantage of the times your child is held captive. Keep good books for children in the bathroom. Stack a few by the bed and make reading the only activity allowed after bedtime. Unless your child is prone to carsickness, take lots of books on a long car ride. Never ever draw attention to these books or suggest that they try reading one.

  2. Notice what type of television programs your child likes most. Do they like dramas or are they drawn to documentaries and science shows? It’s my own opinion that many reluctant readers are “just the facts” people who prefer nonfiction to fiction. Try leaving biographies, nature books, science books, books of math puzzles, books on W.W.II, sports books, joke books, books about foreign countries, or collection-of-facts books scattered about the house. If you can’t resist pushing novels, make them factually based novels. 

  3. Don’t worry that their reading material is too lightweight. Lightweight is good; dumbed down is not. Your purpose at this point is not to produce a well-read child, but a child who knows that books can be fun and reading doesn’t have to be a chore.

  4. Have quiet time at your home and make sure that everyone (Dad, too!) is included. After the supper dishes were done was the time that worked well for us. Only quiet activities are allowed—drawing, homework, paying bills, reading, etc. Half an hour is long enough, but you can try longer if you think you can swing it. Chances are that at some point your reluctant reader will run out of other entertaining quiet activities and open a book.

  5. Don’t stop reading to your child. Ask your child to read out loud to you once in a while. Ask them to read a page or a paragraph from the book you are reading to them. Try reading aloud from a really engaging book, but only a chapter or two—just enough to intrigue them—and then be too busy to read for a few days. See if they will continue on their own.

    The all-time best novel for reluctant readers is Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins. It’s easy to read and I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like it. Read a chapter or two to your child and see if they don’t read on ahead to see what happens. Other Scott O’Dell books are good, too, but introduce these after they’ve been hooked by Island of the Blue Dolphins.

  6. Tidiness may be a virtue, but being too tidy doesn’t promote reading. A reluctant reader does not love reading enough to go find a book that has been put away. Books strewn everywhere is a good thing when it comes to getting kids to read.

  7. Buy appropriate books at garage sales, thrift stores, and used book stores. If you pay the new book price for a book, it’s going to eat at you when it doesn’t get read, and pressure to read a book is counterproductive when you are dealing with reluctant readers.
If you have more ideas, feel free to add them in the comments.

Theological Term of the Week

“The view that baptism is appropriately administered only to those who give a believable profession of faith in Jesus Christ”;1 also called believer’s baptism.

  • From scripture: 

    Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:2-4 ESV)

  • From The London Baptist Confession of Faith 1689, Chapter 29:  
    1._____ Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.
    2._____ Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.
    3._____The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, wherein the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
    4._____Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance. 
  • From Baptism, a Divine Commandment to Be Observed by John Gill:

    II. To shew that the ordinance of water-baptism, being a divine command, it ought to be kept, and observed, as directed to in the word of God. First, I shall shew, by whom it is to be kept and observed. 

    1. By sensible, repenting sinners. John’s baptism was called the baptism of repentance (Mark 1:4); because repentance was previous to it; and the very first persons that were baptized by him, were such who were sensible of their sins, repented of them, and ingenuously confessed them; for it is said, they were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins; and whereas others applied to him for baptism, of whom he had no good opinion, he required of them, that they would first bring forth fruits meet for repentance; and not to think with themselves, we have Abraham to our father (Matthew 3:6-9); since such a plea would be of no avail with him; and the very first persons that were baptized after our Lord had given to his apostles the commission to baptize, were penitent ones; for under the first sermon after this, three thousand were pricked in their heart, and cried out, Men and brethren, what shall we do? To whom the apostle Peter gave this instruction and direction: Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38); and accordingly, on their repentance, they were baptized. 2. This command is to be kept and observed by believers in Christ; he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved (Mark 16:16). Faith goes before baptism, and is a pre-requisite to it; as the various instances of baptism recorded in the scriptures shew. Philip went down to Samaria, and preached Christ there to the inhabitants of it; and when they believed Philip, preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women (Acts 8:12).

Learn more:

  1. Rick DeMichele: Believer’s Baptism in the Bible
  2. William H. Brackney: Believer’s Baptism
  3. Stan Reeves: FAQ on the Reformed Baptist View of Baptism
  4. Baptists on Believer’s Baptism: A List of Quotes from Baptistic Confessions
  5. Sam Storms: Why I Am a Baptist
  6. John Piper: How do Circumcision and Baptist Correspond?
  7. Tom Schreiner: Believer’s Baptism (mp3)

Related terms:

1From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Filed under Ecclesiology.

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.


Round the Sphere Again: More Gospel

What Does It Mean?
Why the  “mystical” explanation of “in Christ” and “with Christ” can’t be right. (From Herman Ridderbos in Paul: An Outline of His Theology—a book that is a struggle to read but worth the effort if you can manage it—quoted at The Gospel-Driven Church.)

Where Is It?
An interview with Dane Ortlund in which he answers a few questions about the gospel, like “Where is the gospel in Leviticus?”

Leviticus is an elaborate accounting of the sacrificial system that God mercifully instituted for Israel, to atone for their sins. It is virtually impossible to plunk down into a random place in Leviticus and not see God’s gracious provision of a way out for filthy people.

And Jesus himself brought that entire sacrificial system to fulfillment. The New Testament tells us Jesus was not only the priest who offered the sacrifice, he was also the sacrifice itself, the lamb—and he was even the temple in which the priest offered the sacrifice. As we read Leviticus as Christians, then, we can be ever mindful of what all those bloody sacrifices were anticipating.

Read the whole thing.

What Were They Thinking?
What were Old Testament believers thinking when they offered animal sacrifices? (Head Heart Hand)


A Catechism for Girls and Boys

Part II: Questions about The Ten Commandments

42. Q. What is the first commandment?
       A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Ex 20:3; Deut 5:7).

(Click through to read scriptural proof.)

Click to read more ...


Sunday Hymn: Jesus, Priceless Treasure

Jesus, priceless treasure,
Source of purest pleasure,
Truest friend to me.
Ah, how long in anguish
Shall my spirit languish,
Yearning, Lord, for Thee?
Thou art mine, O Lamb divine!
I will suffer naught to hide Thee,
Naught I ask beside Thee.

In Thine arms I rest me;
Foes who would molest me
Cannot reach me here.
Though the earth be shaking,
Every heart be quaking,
Jesus calms my fear.
Lightnings flash and thunders crash;
Yet, though sin and hell assail me,
Jesus will not fail me.

Satan, I defy thee;
Death, I now decry thee;
Fear, I bid thee cease.
World, thou shalt not harm me
Nor thy threats alarm me
While I sing of peace.
God’s great power guards every hour;
Earth and all its depths adore Him,
Silent bow before Him.

Evil world, I leave thee;
Thou canst not deceive me,
Thine appeal is vain.
Sin that once did bind me,
Get thee far behind me,
Come not forth again.
Past thy hour, O pride and power;
Sinful life, thy bonds I sever,
Leave thee now forever.

Hence, all thought of sadness!
For the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in.
Those who love the Father,
Though the storms may gather,
Still have peace within;
Yea, whatever we here must bear,
Still in Thee lies purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure!

— Johann Franck, translat­ed by Catherine Winkworth.

Other hymns, worship songs, sermons etc. posted today:

Have you posted a hymn (or sermon, sermon notes, prayer, etc.) today and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by contacting me using the contact form linked above, and I’ll add your post to the list.