The other week I was talking to my “engineer” brother on the telephone. I was recounting the rather humorous incident of Gideon trying to plug in a toaster.
“I don’t understand! What’s so funny? Where does it go!?”
Reuben was not impressed. He identifies more with my sister’s son who, if given a screwdriver, could take apart your entire house. His response, “Your kids need to read less books Miranda.”
Yeah, whatever Reuben.
Besides, I’m sure they’re bound to marry someone who knows how to plug in a toaster. Mere incidentals.
I’m kind of sold on literature based learning. I believe in the power of the story. And consequently, I try to fill their lives with good ones. Most of our books come through holds and inter-library loan. I comb through various book lists and then max out the hold quota on every library card I have. The last thing we would ever do is take our kids to the library and let them pick out whatever they wanted. Like, who does that? I suppose most books in the junior section would be considered “safe” to most people already. But they aren’t neutral. I don’t compartmentalize life, with Christianity on one side and entertainment, education, and leisure innocuously on the other. No, it’s all Christ. Every good and worthy thing is bound up in Him. I feel like the books we read should be growing us, pushing us, making our minds stronger to grasp the next good thing. I often tell my kids that easy fun isn’t fun. The goodness God has for us is such that we have to be bigger to hold it. Then, in turn, it stretches us out a little more to be able to receive more. My tactic this far has been to keep filling with what is good. To move them beyond shallow entertainment, not by telling them no, but by encouraging them to love what is better.
The real trick is feeding the chipper who is Gideon. If left unattended he would devolve into one of those slimy creatures who existed merely between the pages of a science fiction novel bigger than his head. The kind of books that are the male equivalent of a bodice buster. But with lasers. I think the ultimate test of reading is whether or not it makes your real life richer. Is your mind stretched to grasp greater things, are you more enchanted with your God, more in love with your wife, more thankful for your children, more diligent in your work? Or are books your escape from all those things? Are they your armor or your shell? I think the world prefers us to sit back, to watch, to frantically push buttons on a controller, to be entertained, to be still. But to a Christian, the word is given to us as a sword. It empowers us. And while it is possible to read too many books, I’m not sure you can read too many good ones.