Reading for Ultimate Success

Finding Go, Dog. Go! on the bookshelf led me to reflect on the importance of reading for our children’s success in so many areas of life.

Recently I was cleaning my children’s bookshelves. A flood of memories came back to me as I looked at some of the books that I had read over and over and over again to my children when they were toddlers.

There were classics like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Goodnight Moon, Caps for Sale and Go, Dog. Go! And then there were some new favorites, like Wild About Books.

An educational priority

Reading to our children has always been a high priority in our family. Early in their development, we were aware that a National Education Association study concluded that children who are read to at home have a higher success rate in school.

More specifically, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, children who were read to three or four times in the week prior to a comparison study that the department administered, surpassed children of a similar age and background who did not receive the same advantage, by anywhere from 14 to 20 percent. The study included such things as alphabet recognition, counting, writing their name and reading to themselves.

Statistics such as these helped encourage us to acquire an expansive collection of reading material! (Of course, we tried to choose carefully, since there are negative themes and approaches we wanted to avoid.)

A relational priority?

While dusting our sons’ bookshelves, I was surprised by the emotional response that turning the pages of several of their favorite storybooks elicited in me. Words that had once provided such a sense of joy and discovery in our children triggered feelings of connectedness and nostalgia in me.

These books had taken on much more importance to me than tools that could enable greater achievement. They were now keepsakes representing a time when our children believed that the best place in the world was to be snuggled securely in Mommy’s or Daddy’s lap enjoying every word of a favorite story together.

The highest priority!

As I considered the impact of those special times upon both our children and myself, I began to understand and appreciate at an even deeper level the impact that our hours of family Bible reading has had and continues to have upon our family. If reading from books written by various well-known authors could give our children an educational advantage and a sense of belonging, how much more could we accomplish by reading the words of the Life Giver, Lawgiver and ultimate “Love Giver”!

I reviewed two passages from the Bible, Deuteronomy 6 and 2 Timothy 3:15.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 begins with the Shema—often the first part of Scripture a Hebrew child memorizes. The passage also gives specific instructions for parents. In verse 7 we read, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

This verse implies that no matter what we are involved in each day, we should constantly be aware of opportunities to teach our children about God and His ways.

Timothy was instructed by Paul to remember the things he learned from the Scriptures as a child. It was obvious Timothy knew the Scriptures well (2 Timothy 3:15). Paul understood that the knowledge of God—including His written Word and law—is the basis for a successful life.

More importantly, he knew a close relationship with and understanding of our Heavenly Father enables us to repent and rise after inevitable failings and trials, knowing that His love for us is secure (Romans 8:35-39).

Practical benefits and eternal blessings

In retrospect, I am pleased that our sons have benefitted intellectually and emotionally from the time and effort we have invested in reading a wide variety of stories and factual information to them in their early years. As the above-cited study found, the practice produces positive and measurable results.

However, as we continue to commit to the routine of regular Bible reading with our children with the intent of helping instill its principles in their hearts, we can expect life-transforming results. When they are grown, I want to be able to look back with thankfulness, knowing that the books of the Bible were often read to our three sons and that they came to find a profound sense of peace, comfort and connectedness in the presence of their spiritual Parent.

What could be a more gratifying and better use of our time than to teach our children the ways of God, as we read from the Book that leads to eternal blessings and benefits?

For more about parenting, see the section on “Practical Tips for Positive Parenting” and for more on Bible study, see the section on “Bible Study.”

About the Author

Rhonda Waddle

Rhonda Waddle lives with her husband, Bryan, and three children near Houston, Texas.