Confessions of a Struggling Reader
I’m an assistant principal with two Masters Degrees, and I’m ordained. I’ve written two published novels (more on the way) and a non-fiction Bible study for writers being shopped by my agent. If you’d asked any of my teachers, “This is going to be one of your students at age 52. Which student is it?” My name would never have come up. Not a whisper. Why? Typical boy. Rambunctious. Intelligent, but often applied it incorrectly. I didn’t know God and was a terrible reader. Would you want me in your class?
One summer we took a weekend vacation to Daytona Beach, and it was raining. We stopped at a mall after dinner. My mom dragged us into a bookstore, and I browsed until a book caught my eye — Jaws. 1975, the movie had just released in theaters. After surviving a small coronary, Mom asked if I wanted to buy the book. I devoured Jaws (pun intended) in less than two weeks. A speed record for me.
That book opened the doors to reading for me. After finishing Jaws, I wondered if sharks really jumped on the back of boats and grew 25-feet long. That sent me on a quest because I wanted to be a marine biologist. My mother unwittingly had tapped into something that deeply interested me.
That’s the key. If you have a struggling reader, find that interest buried inside. Once the key is found, find the reading material that revolves around it. We struggling readers have tricked ourselves into thinking, “I hate reading.” It’s not reading we hate. We hate being force-fed things that we have no interest in until finally, convinced there’s nothing good to read. Someone would’ve introduced it by high school, right? The system breeds a disdain for reading, ironic as that may seem.
If someone would take the time to find out what our interests are, then as we start to read about things we are interested in, we start learning new things. The key slides into the lock and unlatches the mechanism. Then, it’s not long before we’re finding books on our own…and the doors get blown off the hinges because learning is fun and engaging.
I’m still a slow reader. As a Christian, I often think, “If I hadn’t realized I love reading, where would I be in my Christian walk?” For us to grow in Christ, we must read God’s Word. No small feat for a struggling reader, especially if you’re handed a King James version or aren’t a big World History aficionado. And worse if you hate to read.
Yet, I think Satan thought from the time Moses put quill to papyrus. “If I can get them to sin, and have the writings of God destroyed (at the bottom of Mount Sinai), carry them into captivity so they have no access to God’s writings (Babylonian-Assyrian periods), confound the writings of God with bureaucratic duplicity (from emerging Greek and Roman Empires through Constantine’s reign), make the people ignorant so they don’t understand God’s writings (Middle Ages when so much was written and preached in Latin), and if I eventually make reading a nemesis for young people by capturing their hearts with an electronic age, filled with computers and gaming and cell phones, then how many of these dolts can I separate from God for all eternity?”
Interest our young in reading so they can read for themselves, or we develop a de facto “peasant state” that has to believe the “governors” because they can’t read and think critically for themselves. Aristotle said, “It’s the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” It’s the mark of a godly mind as well (Read 1 John 4:1-6). You can’t know what God’s Word says if you never read and comprehend it.
C. Kevin Thompson is an ordained minister, having served churches in New York, Mississippi, Texas, and Iowa. He’s married (for 33+ years), has three daughters, two sons-in-law, and five grandchildren. He speaks in churches on occasion, presently works as an assistant principal in a Central Florida school district, and plays the drums in his church’s praise team.
Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), ACFW, and Word Weavers International. His published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (OakTara, 2012; winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1 (OakTara 2013), as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.
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