By Fr. Athanasius K. Farag
At the May 22, 2017 Fellowship of St. Monica Meeting, a ministry for mothers of young children at St. Antonious & St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in East Rutherford, NJ, Fr. Athanasius gave us some important advice about helping our children love reading. Besides being known for his love of books and our church’s famous annual book fair, Fr. Athanasius raised five children of his own, all of whom love reading. What follows are notes written by Phoebe Farag from the advice he gave us.
- The reading habit starts if the parents are reading. Start very early.
- Read the book before you give it to your children. Sometimes it seems like achildren’s book, but read it yourself first, do not just rely on reviews.
- Notice your children’s ages and don’t force them to read above their reading levels or books above their maturity. They are losing their childhood in this country.
- Kids get hooked on books and want to read them over and over again. This is ok. For older kids, get them into a series.
- Don’t use reading to punish.
- Don’t compare your children. Each has his own ability. Sometimes we express our joy to the one who is accomplished and we compare him or her to the other children. This is wrong. They cannot have the same ability.
- There is essential reading and nonessential reading. There are important, standard books that are foundational; there are some good books for how to build a library for children.
- Classical stories, mythology and fairy tales are important for children. Mythology tries to tell you a truth that can’t otherwise be expressed. Some people are afraid of it, but it is helpful. We need to let our kids’ imagination work.