Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolving to Read Anew

Ready or not, a new year has begun. It is always an odd sensation to try to grasp the concept that one year of life is closing and another opening as the seconds tick away in the usual daily manner. Happy New Year to you all!

Our family left the old year behind by recounting with one another and friends the things we were most thankful for in 2012. The prophet Jeremiah sings, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness, O Lord." (Lam. 3:22)

New beginnings are a blessing and a symbol of God's steadfast faithfulness. Yet many are a bit cynical when referring to "New Year's Resolutions," joking that they are meant to be broken. I've lived long enough to know that many good intentions never do come to pass, so to speak; they are not carried from thought to action. I also have seen the power of new habits, which are enforced and reinforced by thought, effort of action, and returned to even when allowed to slip. Perfection is not achieved by accomplishing goals  perfectly, but by attempting repeatedly until the goal is reality.

Over the years, I have sought to encourage, enlighten, and inspire people to develop a stronger reading habit. Today is a good day to turn your resolves into new actions. Here are a few suggestions to, again, urge you to move in that direction:

1. Make a list of the ways you could improve your own reading habits, then zero in on one to implement today.
2. Make a short list of, say ten, books you would like to read this year. 
3. Set aside some time, say 15 minutes, per day to read these books. If this does not work after a few days, move the time, but don't shorten it.
4. Make a list of books you read throughout the year.
5. Decide on a weekly time to read as a family and choose the first book to read together. (See a suggestion list below or peruse our "Top Picks," for other ideas).
6. Work out a plan to read aloud to your children every day outside of school lessons - teatime, bedtime, after supper? Years ago a friend challenged me to read two hours a day, which I thought I did, but found was actually tough; how about 15 minutes to start?
7. Choose an audio book to listen to only on car rides.
8. Resolve with one or more friends to read the same book and meet (or even email or Skype) to discuss it.
9. For yourself, or encourage your children, to meet with friends to discuss your current book, each person reading their individual books and sharing about them.
10. Choose a short book, rather than a tome, to begin with to encourage yourself or your family in this new habit.

Suggestions of books to try:

For Dad: A Place in Time by Wendell Berry
For Mom: The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge
For young adult: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
For elementary age: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
For young children: Little Eddie by Carolyn Haywood
For toddler: Anatole by Eve Titus
For Family: Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat

What are some of your strategies for improving your own reading habits with us? Do you have any suggestions of book worth reading for others to try?

For the joy of reading,

Liz

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