The Five Step Plan to Raising Readers, And One Step You Might Not Hear Enough

Okay, I’m writing this purely from an Instagram request – this is my experience from my whopping 6 years of motherhood and 30 something-ish years of life as an avid reader.  A good portion of those years were spent in my grandmother’s small town library so that counts double right? So this is like taking advice for a 50 something-ish person.  Wink, Wink.

  1. Be a Reader – You will not inspire a love of books if you do not show a love of books.  Yes, busy mother of multiple small humans this means you too.  Take just five minutes to read when they can see you – I understand that after 6 mins someone is probably going to start climbing furniture or discovering fire, but five minutes?  You can do it and it counts.  Have you’re kids gone past starting fires into full-blown pyromania then go for audiobooks, podcast, quality radio.  Show them you consume thoughts and ideas any way you can.
  2. Fill Your Home with Books – These don’t need to be brand new, shiny hardcovers.  They can be well-loved dollar paperbacks or stacks of library books or your neighbor’s hand-me-downs from when she officially declared she’s “Never homeschooling again!” for this month at least.  Keep books in every room of the house, and yes I mean every room.  Keep baskets of board books in the kitchen and stack of those cheap, easy readers in the car.  Don’t get hung up about what books either.  While I’ll always encourage a certain level of quality a few cartoon characters early reader will not rot your kid’s mind, but they might get them through a frustrating slump in their reading ability.
  3. Introduce Variety – You’re kids don’t have to sit down an pour over Shakespeare and Wordsworth at age three, but it’s never too early to give them the chance to experiences plays, poetry, biographies, history and so much more.  Magazines are a great way to do this – a subscription to National Geographic or the various Cricket Magazines is a great way to introduce variety even if you really prefer murder mysteries revolving around cats and their bumbling, but lovable owners.  Not judging.
  4. Books as Gifts – It’s never too early to give books as gifts or requests books as gifts.  Stocking stuffers, Easter Baskets, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Wednesday – these are all good reasons for the gift of a book.  Books don’t have to be individual gifts – gifts books the family will read together.  Big series like Narnia or Harry Potter are great to give together to encourage read aloud time.  Calvin and Hobbes anthologies are a perfect way to spend a post-Christmas sugar crash together.
  5. Read – I think this one goes without saying, but it’s the easiest to forget.  We have to read to our kids even when they’re only sitting still for three pages or leave books with bite wounds.  Reading together is a skill you build on.  A child who has never been read to won’t know how to sit still and listen suddenly at the age of four.

And last, but not as commonly talked about:

Let your children love books.

Don’t worry about them not being an early reader, don’t worry about them only wanting graphic novels instead of Tolstoy at age 8, don’t worry about Mensa booklists or anything else.  Let your children develop a love of reading and the rest will fall into place in its own time.    If you are a child, whom shall remain nameless, who in first grade reads at a third-grade level (and it should be mentioned said child was not reading before Kindergarten in any big way), but only wants to read first-grade level books because that’s what he enjoys (even if your mother really can’t stand Piggie and Elephant, at all).. go ahead.  Enjoy.  I want you to love books above all else.


….. we’ll start the Mensa list next year.

image via Unsplash by Robyn Budlender

Confession: Avatar Style

In a few years, my son will be old enough to make his first confession.  I hope we can take it as seriously as it merits, I hope we cover all the important parts and that he really understands the importance of the acts leading up to his first confession.  And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to explain confession using one of his favorite T.V. shows:  Avatar the Last Airbender.

We were watching a bit tonight and I turned to my husband after one particular scene just with my mouth wide open – that was confession right there; the fear, the disbelief, the sadness and the complete and utter forgiveness.

For those who don’t know the show I’ll try to sum up as quickly as I can, near the end of the show we come to a scene where one character (Zuko) must finally face his Uncle, whom he betrayed in order to gain what he thought would give him purpose and meaning, and ask for forgiveness.  It truly is a beautiful story arch of real character development.

I’m not sure if the writers and creator of the show is Catholic or even Christian, but I have my suspicions particularly was how the show ends and it’s culminating themes …. love, forgiveness, and mercy.  I know many people have avoided the show because it focuses on “Eastern” like spirituality, but oh there’s so much more there if you dig a little deeper.


I mean I’m not going to say that there are obvious allusions to the Divine Mercy in the culminating scenes, so instead, I’ll just leave this right here…


Anyways, there are two main scenes – leading up to the confession and experiencing the confession.  In the first scene our confessing character, Zuko, talks to a friend about his fears and unworthiness.

Z:  My Uncle hates me.  I know it.  He loved me and supported me in every way he could, and I still turned against him.  How can I even face him?

(now tell me you’ve NEVER felt that leading up to confession)

K:  Zuko, you’re sorry for what you did, right?

Z: More sorry than I’ve been about anything in my entire life.

K: Then he’ll forgive you.  He will.

Right there, plain and simple.  You go to confession feeling unworthy like you’re the worst, but truly sorry and you’re forgiven.  No other rules or guidelines, no hoops to jump through.  Just forgiveness.

The next scene is the confession/confrontation between nephew and son,  Zuko pours out his heart begging forgiveness and suddenly it’s there.  No words, no anger, no demands just his Uncle reaching out and embracing him with forgiveness, full and without any strings attached.

Zuko, confused, asks his Uncle why he is not angry after everything he has done and his Uncle answers, like the true father figure this young man has spent years looking for:

“I was never angry with you.  I was sad because you lost your way… But you found it again… and I am so happy you found your way here.”

And there it is illustrated so simply, but powerfully.  God will never be angry or resent us when we lose our way.  His heart breaks when we betray him and lose our way, but when we find the path back to him all he knows is joy and love for us.


Merry Manifest: October

Is it really October already?  Oye.  So much to do in the next few weeks before winter arrives and makes me a hermit for a few months.  I just got back from a weekend up with my Blessed is She team combined with a mini-pilgrimage of my own.  I put a lot of miles on my car and had some much needed time in quiet.  I’ll be sharing a bit more later on, but for now, you can see pictures over on my Instagram account of all the beautiful churches I found in the little towns I passed through.  It’s becoming a fun little hobby, and I love reminding people that there is beautiful church history and culture in our own backyards.  I think we tend to think we can only experience really Catholicism in old world Europe, but there’s so much here to explore!

On to the rest of the list though!

To Listen:

  • My husband has a little mixtape he made our daughter to play while she falls asleep and it’s filled with slow, sleepy ballads from John Denver, Don McLean and James Taylor so I’ve been feeling the need to have a little more acoustic guitar in my days.  I’m getting older and definitely finding myself lamenting the lack of poetry in modern songwriting “these days”.
  • It’s officially October so that means I binge listen to Lore with abandon.  I haven’t listened for about a year for no good reason, and have a lot to get through to catch back up.  I’m also excited that the Lore TV show is on it’s way soon.
  • I’ve recently discovered that NPR has an app (yes, I’m behind the times) and am enjoying being able to catch up on some of my old favorites like Shamrock and Thistle and Prairie Home Companion without the hassle of remembering when to turn on the radio.

To Watch:

  • I didn’t watch anything really new in September, but we have plans to get me caught up on the new Spiderman movie this weekend as well as starting Stranger Things in time for the second season.  Ben has watched season one, but I’m behind as always.  October seemed a good reason to make sure this one got watched.

To Read:

  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi was excellent and I highly recommend it.
  • I was very excited to come across a book called “Hild” that was supposed to be about the life of St. Hilda, but trust me when I say pass on this one.  Not worth your time.
  • This month I’m working through Metaxas’ “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” and “The Thief” by Megan Whalen Turner.  I’m enjoyed the former, but not entirely convinced about the latter quite yet.

To Do:

  • October is a big long to do list for me – I have Halloween Costumes to make, winter gifts to knit, holidays to start to plan.  So don’t mind the radio silence if it happens – there’s a lot going on around here!