Reviewing favorite books from my childhood brings back an important aspect of my childhood for which I am thankful. I was raised to be a reader. When I was a child, my mother did not let my sisters and me be mental vegetables during summer vacations. She required us to read some every day. Reading became a normal part of my life. In elementary school I loved receiving a Troll Books Club catalog and choosing books to order. My parents always paid for my order, and the day I received my order was always exciting.
When I was in eighth grade my English teacher required us to form groups in which each person would review a book he or she had read (I reviewed H. G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”). One of the boys in my group had not read anything since the previous year, and he read it only because he was required to read it in class. Reading was so much a part of my life that I did not understand such a mindset. He was so inactive that my group had to move forward and complete our project without him (he probably received a zero grade). Fortunately my other group member was also an avid reader. Later when I was in tenth grade my grades were suffering. I had the ability to do the work, but I lacked discipline. Even then, however, I was a reader. Fortunately that lack of discipline was remedied.
When I was in college and seminary, I would continue reading between semesters. I also continued reading after seminary. My independent reading after graduation was some of the most influential reading in how I view the world. I slacked off a few years ago, but I have now gotten back into the habit.
Today, distractions are everywhere. When I was a child we did not have mobile devices or social media. Personal computers were still in the early stages, and we had no internet. Parents were concerned with how much television children watched (something my parents strictly controlled), but we did not have nearly as many distractions as children have today. I applaud any parent or teacher who encourages children to be readers. It can benefit their mental development in ways that have wide applications for their entire lives, such as mastery of the English language, the ability to write coherent sentences, and the ability to think for themselves. Reading can open the world to them and train their minds in ways that television, video games, and social media never will.