Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

My 2012 Book Group List

 Well, do you?

Well, do you?

For the past several years, I have been part of a Book Group and I always look forward to the monthly meetings with these smart, funny, well-read (and Christian) women. Our book choices are eclectic, ranging from classics to  current NY Times bestsellers.

Here is what we read together in 2012, January to December, with brief comments from me:

Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand: In WWII, Louis Zamperini survived a plane crash in the Pacific and unspeakable torture. He is still alive. Read my blog review.

Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis: A huge, and deserved, 2012 success. Read my review.

Tolstoy & the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch:  After losing a beloved sister to cancer, Sankovitch decided to read a book a day for a year. How she navigated her grief through this extraordinary effort is both touching and inspiring. A great book for book lovers.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: I reviewed this also. Read it here.

The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton: Set in the 1950s and moving through the next few decades, the story follows a group of women who form a book club. Sticking together through triumph and loss – and women’s lib – they grow in the confidence to work on their dreams. Good chick lit.

Under Plum Lake by Lionel Davidson: A short, dreamy, visionary book unlike the British crime fiction Davidson was best known for. He said the story came to him suddenly and seamlessly. Suggested by an English teacher in our group who assigns this very vivid little book each year to her students.

House Rules by Jodi Picoult:  This ueber-creative writer takes on Asperberger’s Syndrome, which is similar to autism. Everyone should read a Picoult book at some time or other. This would be a good one.

The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy: Set in the occupied Channel Islands during WWII, a young wife struggles to raise her two girls while her husband is away fighting. Her relationship with a German officer is at the heart of this very human story. Similar in some ways to the excellent 2004 British television series, “Island at War.”

A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead: I saw this book in a catalog and broke a BG rule by suggesting it before I read it. The group agreed it sounded interesting: a story of the friendship of women in the French resistance during WWII. It is, in fact, a searing account of Birkenau and Auschwitz. Very tough reading, but the kind of book we should all get through once in awhile to remind us of the appalling sacrifices for freedom.

The Christmas Cantata by Mark Schweizer: We needed something light after “Train”, and this was a good choice. Set in St. Germaine, NC, it has the homey feel and small town drama of Jan Karon’s Mitford series. Lighthearted and warm, it’s a nice read.

So there it is, a fine sampling of good reading over the course of a year.  A Book Group encourages you to read outside your own box or literary tendencies, sample something new – and then get to express your opinion about it!

And people who love books are always good company.

Do you belong to a Book Group? If not, have you ever thought about starting one or joining one?

Why You Should Read the One Year Bible

The one that started it all.

The one that started it all.

In 1991, my beloved grandmother, Irene Daisy Wheeler, passed away. While sorting through her things I came across a still-shrinked-wrapped, hardcover copy of the One Year Bible. It was the New International Version and came with a small green journal.

That discovery changed my relationship with the Bible.

The format intrigued me. The daily readings started in January at the beginning of  Genesis, Matthew, Psalms, and Proverbs. A 4-track parallel course through the Word.

I started on a regimen of daily reading for the next 20 years.

That first NIV became what I call my “working” copy. I read every book with a pencil and this Bible was no exception. I made comments in the margins. Asked questions in the margins. I transferred the textual notes from the back of the Bible into the body for easier reference.

After a number of years, I purchased a New Kings James Version. I spent the first year transferring all my notes from the NIV to the new Bible during my daily reading.

They are important to me.

They are my conversation with God’s Word.

Here are a few benefits I’ve experienced:

  • It provides a disciplined approach to reading the Bible.
  • It provides an interesting way to get through the Bible in a year.
  • It helps establish the narrative of the Bible in my mind.

    Highly recommended.

    Highly recommended.

Now, of course, with YouVersion, you can read it on your computer, your IPhone (or any cell phone), your IPad, your IWhatever. Apps with every creative kind of incentive are available.

The point is to read. And to think about what you’re reading.

It is true that His Word is forever settled in heaven. But I also want it settled in my mind and heart and spirit. The One Year Bible has made that a reality for me.

I encourage you at the start of this New Year to try it. If you don’t have one, buy a parallel Bible in the version of your choice (check “excerpts” to be sure). Don’t worry if you are behind. Read a couple of days at a time and you’ll be caught up in no time at all.

Just get started. This marvelous journey of 365 days begins with Day One.

Do you have a daily reading plan? If not, what would prevent you from trying this?

Why You Should Read to Your Little People

What if I told you that 35% of American children start kindergarten without sufficient language skills.

Would you believe it?

It’s true.

And, two-thirds of all 4th grade students are not reading at grade level. These children will be 4 times less likely to graduate from high school than proficient readers.

Which means that a growing semi-literate population is likely going to struggle with poverty.

Which means . . . oh, never mind.

Lest you be tempted to despair, stop reading, and go binge on cookies, I have some suggestions – and encouragement – for you and the youngsters in your life.

Reading out loud:

  •  reinforces the basic sounds that form language. By reading books like, say, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, children learn critical enunciation skills. This Seuss classic is a probably has the largest number of short words of any kids book out there. Everything from Yops to Gacks. Great practice for little emerging talkers.
  •  teaches the basics of how to read a book. Have you ever considered that children are not born with the innate knowledge that text is read from left to right? Or that words on a page are separate from images? These are essential pre-reading skills.
  •  expands vocabulary. Studies have shown that 2-year-olds who are read to regularly have a larger vocabulary than toddlers who aren’t. No surprise there. Reading constantly introduces new words. Giraffes Can’t Dance is one of my 2-year-old granddaughter’s recent favorites. Since the story is set in Africa, Natalia learned some new-to-her creatures: “warthog,” “meerkat,” and “wildebeest.”  She knows them all. And to hear her say them is, well, total cuteness.                                                                                                              
  • introduces the concept of story. Toddlers also love repetition. Which is why your little person will request  the same story over and over and over again. Then, he’ll start memorizing phrases and rhymes and even reading aloud with you. This is called emergent literacy and is, if I may say so, thrilling. This also means that Goodnight Moon will be burned into your brain.
  •  helps develop a stronger relationship with you. Sitting close together, reading, slows you both down. It nurtures. Your child will sense your delight both in being with him and in books. Sitting with my granddaughter in our reading chair with a stack of books she has chosen is one of my life’s particular pleasures.
  •  helps predict academic excellence. Aha! Reading to a child promotes a higher aptitude for learning in general. Numerous studies indicate that students who are exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to do well in all areas of formal education. Period.

So turn off the electronic chatter. Grab a book and that little person in your life. Sit down. And read.

Easy investment – big, big return.

Do you have memories of being read to as a child? If so, what books?

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