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Six Tips for Bible Reading

Did you know that only 14% of Canadian Christians read the Bible at least once every week?  That number is almost completely unbelievable.

And it is a disaster. What other group of people will ignore the words of their leader?  What other group of people claims to follow someone without paying any attention to him?  Who would possibly dare to ignore the message of the Ruler of the Universe?

This leave us with an obvious question:  If the Bible is actually God’s Word, why on earth would only 14% of Christians care enough to read it once a week? 

  • Perhaps it is because they don’t believe it really is God’s Word.
  • Perhaps because they do not believe that it is relevant to their lives.
  • Perhaps because they do not know anyone else who reads the Bible.
  • Or perhaps because they do not know how to go about it? There is, in some circles, quite a mystique about reading the Bible and that can intimidate people.  Besides, it is a long, complicated book, and without a bit of guidance people easily can get overwhelmed by names, laws, or distasteful prophecies.

So for those who want to read the Bible but just can’t seem to make it work, here are some simple tips:

  1. Make it possible:  Buy a Bible and make sure it is accessible.  You can invest a lot of money in a gold-edged, leather Bible, but personally I prefer an inexpensive one that I can take anywhere without worrying about it.  Or get an audio Bible.  Or download a Bible onto your phone.  Or do all three.
  2. Make it simple:  Have the Bible available when and where you would like to read it.  Put it on the treadmill, in your purse, beside your bed, or on your kitchen windowsill.  And then don’t make a production of reading it—just open it and read.
  3. Pray:  Simply ask God to bless your reading and help you understand it, and then open your Bible and read. During or after your reading you may want to pray again.
  4. Make Bible reading part of your daily routine:  There are many ways to do this.  As my husband and I learned from our parents, we read the Bible after every meal—just a simple 5 minutes or less of reading aloud.  Regular personal Bible reading also depends on routine:  when you get up, when you eat, when you nurse the baby, before you read anything else, before you go to sleep…these are all options that have worked for me throughout the years.  Just attach your Bible reading time to something else you do regularly.
  5. Get some guidance:  If you are new to Bible reading, begin with Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.  Then ask someone at your church or a Christian you know about what to read next.  Have a Bible handbook available as you read.  Learn the Bible stories. Learn the Bible message.  Follow one of the Bible reading plans that are widely available online and in print.  I listed some Bible resources here.
  6. Discuss your reading with other people:  The study quoted above concluded that ‘conversation with others about the meaning of the Bible is the key factor in deepening Bible engagement.’

If you have been having a hard time reading your Bible, I hope these simple tips will help. If you do read your Bible, as I know many of my dear readers do, please add any helpful tips in the comments.

Let us all read our Bibles regularly and encourage other Christians to do so as well. This is vitally important for each one of us as well as for our families, churches, and culture.

As homeschooling moms, we have the opportunity to read the Bible with our children daily and to show them how important it is. This may well be the most valuable thing we can do for our children…and, seeing these statistics, for our culture as well.

Note: This study was done in Canada.  I expect similar statistics could be gathered in other countries.  For more information about the study visit the Bible Engagement Study website or the Bible League Canada website.

Disclosure: As usual, I am not compensated for bringing this study to your attention

Review: Guess Who Noah’s Boat by Matt Mitter

Guess Who Noah's Boat

This book looked so adorable that I agreed to review it even though I have no little ones of my own anymore. The book itself is as cute as its picture, and is so much fun.  Even the lion’s paws on the front cover flip down to show his face.

Guess Who Noah’s Boat is a cheerfully illustrated board book about the animals on Noah’s ark.  Each two page spread has a four-line rhyme so that little ones can help Noah find which animal is hiding.  Then they can lift a sturdy flap to see if they were right.  In each case just enough of the animal peeps out from behind the flap to jog a toddler’s memory even if the rhyme doesn’t.

Of course, this book does not show the true meaning and devastation of the Flood, but that is beyond the grasp of most toddlers anyhow. Instead it is a happy book that can be read over and over again, vaguely based on the fact that there was a flood and that it ended.

If you are looking for a sturdy, cheerful, interactive book for a toddler in your life, this might be a good fit. Since I was just yesterday adopted as an honorary auntie, I know who will get my copy of Guess Who Noah’s Boat!

Disclosure:  I received a review copy of this book from Kregel in order to share my honest opinions.

Review: The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier

The Perfect Score Project

Due to various challenges, Debbie Stier’s son Ethan did not have excellent marks. When Debbie, a single mom, realized she could not afford college tuition, she decided Ethan would need to do well on the SAT.  Rather than add to his stress by pressuring him, she decided to model to her son how to get a perfect score on the SAT.

Thus was born The Perfect Score Project, in which Debbie tried all sorts of test prep ideas and took the SAT seven times in one year.

In the process she learned a lot about parenting as well as the SAT.

In terms of parenting, she learned that parents and kids who do projects together have a better relationship and that the kids, including teens, benefit in many ways from such focused time with their parents. She also learned that pushing her own projects could backfire, but getting into her teens’ space in a friendly way, as Gordon Neufeld has written about, was important.  Although a mom can express love through baking cookies, through helping a teen learn, and in many other ways, a distracted parent leads to a distracted teen.  All these ideas and more made Debbie realize that, for her, the SAT project had actually been a course in remedial parenting.

In terms of the SAT itself, Debbie learned many lessons worth sharing:

  • Cramming is not nearly as effective as spacing one’s studying out.
  • US students excel in self-confidence but not in performance.
  • Handwriting is related to learning, so write out the things you need to learn. Debbie describes how the amazing and expensive Advantage program uses notebooking, something many homeschoolers love.
  • The SAT essay score is directly correlated to essay length and vocabulary level.
  • If you want to learn something well, it helps to love it.
  • Because deliberate practice is the key to excellence in all spheres of life, as Malcolm Gladwell pointed out, it is a good idea to take practice tests frequently.
  • One must cultivate the ability to focus under stress.
  • And, most importantly, all the tricks and techniques in the world will not help much if you don’t have a solid foundation in the subject matter: reading, writing, thinking, and math.

Debbie also includes tables and tips for buying study books, writing the SAT essay, recognizing test anxiety, knowing what to do on test day, preparing for the math section, deciding how and when to guess, and much more.

So, after devoting a year to the SAT, did Debbie get a perfect score? No.  Not even after all that effort.  Although she did improve significantly, the lack of a solid foundation in the subject matter really hampered her. On the other hand, her son, who had been her reason for doing this project, was motivated to study and even to do Kumon math worksheets.  He did achieve the score he aimed for, and was also offered university scholarships.  So that goal, the main one, was achieved.

The greatest benefit to Debbie’s family was, however, completely unexpected. By working on a project for her children, one that they could follow and watch and even participate in, one that she was obviously doing for them, she developed a bond of love and respect with them.

Of course, the bottom line for you is: Would it be a good idea to buy The Perfect Score Project to help your children prepare for the SAT?  It could give you background information and encouragement as a parent of a SAT-bound teen. It certainly would give you some ideas about the SAT as well as about parenting and is also interesting as a memoir.  Debbie writes well.

For practical SAT help, though, I recommend solid and joyful learning and living throughout the years, the kind of learning that happens in many homeschools. As you can read in my review of Acing the SAT, this does lead to the best SAT scores as well as the best preparation for life.  The Perfect Score Project can help a lot, but it is not necessary.

Note: this book contains a few instances of inappropriate language.

This is yet another book in the in the 2014 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Works for Me Wednesdays, Booknificent Thursdays, Raising Homemakers, and Trivium Tuesdays.

Disclosure: A download of this book was provided by Blogging for Books for the purpose of this review.

Miss 12’s Spelling Solution

Some children can spell easily, but others struggle, and struggle, and struggle. Somehow, they just don’t see the individual letters in a word or hear the individual sounds.

As we struggled for a solution, Miss 12 came up with a new way to study her problem words.

Miss 12's latest attempt to master her tough spelling words

Miss 12’s latest attempt to master her tough spelling words

This way she always has them with her and can always review them. What’s more, no matter where we are—or where the spelling book has disappeared to—she can remind me which words to quiz her on and I can remember which rules we are trying to reinforce yet again.

Besides, it adds fun to a subject that is very stressful for her and that is always a good thing.

I don’t know if writing the words on her hand will be a long term solution to her spelling difficulties, but the novelty of it will help for a little while at least.

Thinking outside the box by writing on her hand works for her, at least for today.

Review: Promise and Deliverance by S.G. De Graaf

Promise and Deliverance

It can be difficult to find a quality narrative Bible curriculum for teens and adults. The four volume Promise and Deliverance series by S.G. De Graaf, first published years ago, is still among the best. Many years ago Christianity Today called it “A landmark in interpreting the simple stories of the Bible” and that assessment is as valid as ever.

For years the author, Reverend De Graaf, led a weekly class for those who taught Bible to children, both at Sunday schools and at day schools. This book is the fruit of repeatedly answering the question, “How do we tell this Bible story?” and is helpful for teachers of little ones, for teens to study on their own, and also for anyone else who wishes to study the Bible.

So what is so special about the Promise and Deliverance series?  It focuses on the meaning of each story and on how to understand and share it….

You can read the rest of this review, with the links to  free downloads of all four volumes of Promise and Deliverance, at the Curriculum Choice. 

This review is linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Raising HomemakersFinishing Strong , and Trivium Tuesdays.

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