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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

I’m always surprised by the start of the New Year. Strange how it sneaks up just as you’re recovering from Christmas festivities, eh? It’s something I always think it would be good to plan and organise myself for, but once the frantic preparations for Christmas are finished, it’s all too easy to collapse in a heap of self-indulgence and sloth (my default mode, I fear).

But this December I want give myself a little time to think about plans for 2013. I have a BIG thing looming on the horizon for the Spring, which will means that I will need to be organised and on top of things at the beginning of January rather than sometime in mid-February. I want to make sure (as far as possible, notwishtanding my sinful slothful inclinations) that my devotional life has a good rhythm. I’m enjoying John Piper’s devotional e-book this Advent – and managing to actually read it almost every day.

Open bibleThe start of a new year always seems like a good time to think about reading through the whole bible. I am an eternal optimist in this regard. I started using the Daily Bible app on my tablet this year, and the M’Cheyne bible reading scheme that it enables you to use. I’ve found it helpful but it’s a big chunk to read – four chapters a day. Nate Treguboff has posted a good selection of whole bible plans, which includes the M’Cheyne and another for Slacker and Shirkers that I used on and off (mainly off) in 2011.

Tim Chester has just posted his bible reading scheme for 2013 which is less prescriptive than other schemes. It gives a reading for the week, rather than daily readings. I like this idea as it could be used in conjunction with a shorter devotional book. His scheme takes you through the Old Testament once every 3 years and the New Testament twice in the same time. If you’d like to start with the complete 3 year plan he’s also posted that.

So the Plan for Jan is a light devotional read in the mornings (suggestions welcome) to prompt prayer and a bible reading slot using Tim Chester’s plan at some stage in the week. I’ve thought that I could probably usefully listen to the allocated chapters using Bible Gateway’s audio facility, whilst I’m cooking or baking. I do spend a *lot* of time in my kitchen…

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On Saturday I took a couple of lovely ladies from our church to the Midlands Women’s Convention in Derby. It was the first year of a Midlands convention, after last year’s Northern Women’s Convention was sold out, and disorganised bookers (err, like me) missed out on tickets. What an encouragement it proved to be – around 700 women, some great talks and a terrific band.

I came away particularly challenged about my approach to bible reading. The main speaker was Kathleen Nielson, whose background is in the study of English literature. Her great passion is reading the bible *as* literature. I was reminded how easy it is to read the bible quickly, like a Tweet, or even a blogpost, hoping to grab something meaningful in as short a time as possible. In our busy lives and instant access culture the temptation to treat the Word like fast food is ever present. But, as Kathleen reminded us, a diet of fast food can leave us with malnutrition.

Since much of the bible is poetry – not just the Psalms and Proverbs, but great chunks of Old Testament prophecy in particular, we need to remind ourselves how to read a poem. Poetry reading is very out of fashion because it takes time and thought – it’s certainly not something I would automatically chose to do of a free evening! A poem is pretty much the opposite of a Tweet: I love Twitter and the short sharp thought, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take time to chew over the Word and think about what God is saying in a much more reflective way. Even if it’s hard. Which it is when you’re extraverted and easily distracted. Or even if you’re not.

All in all, it was a thought-provoking day. I spent tonnes of money on books too – the enthusiastic Jonathan Carswell and his team from TenofThose had a stall. I also had the chance to talk a wee bit about my blog in a seminar and was very pleased to tweetup with fellow blogger Sara. If you’re now feeling you’ve missed out, there are still tickets available for the Northern Women’s Convention in Manchester next Saturday. Or join us for next year’s convention on 6th October 2013.

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So, having analysed what sold well last year, and what appeals to 11-14 year olds on a Pathfinder Venture, I also have a list of new books to stock this year. Having bent publisher Jonathan Carswell’s ear off about this (and I guess someone’s been doing the same to Tim Thornborough), both 10ofThose and The Good Book Company have published books for teenagers this year. It’s great to see some new Christian books for young people published in the UK. And some of them are particularly suited to the younger end of the spectrum, where the selection seems weakest.

I’ve just discovered that The Good Book Company’s camp page has lists of suggested books for camp, many of which I already knew about, but which also has some new ideas for me. You may find it helpful if planning your own bookstall!

So this year, I shall be supplementing last year’s favourite books with the following – and others if you have any good suggestions…

Lost by Jonty Allcock (£3-4) – A retelling of the Prodigal Son suitable for young people, challenging them to meet Jesus.

 

True by Sarah Bradley (£4.50-5.50) – A book encouraging girls in their Christian lives

Genuine by Cassie Martin – a series of studies of young people in the Bible aimed at older Pathfinders

Bibles – This year we’ll be stocking pricier ones (I rather like the patriotic Union Jack one) but also More Than Gold’s On Your Marks edition of Mark’s gospel, which is only 60p.

No Girls Allowed/Friends Forever – Undated gendered devotionals (different from last year’s) from Scripture Union which may appeal to some.

Puzzle Book – this seems like a fun way to get younger or reluctant readers to grapple with some systematic theology!

Bible from Scratch by Simon Jenkins – this fun cartoon bible overview was a favourite of mine when I was a teenager and hasn’t dated – great to see it available again.

YP’s Guide to Starting Secondary School – We’ll have a good few Year 6s with us on camp this year, so I thought it might be worth stocking a few of these.

The Back Leg of a Goat by Penny Reeve – The Queen enjoyed reading this a while back and I’d forgotten about it when I was planning last year’s bookstall. Penny Reeve has written a couple of other books for this age group which I thought I’d try out too this year.

I am also going to read through a few more of Kathy Lee’s books to work out which would be good to stock to ensure we have a good fiction range, alongside some Patricia St John and any other Christian fiction that I can find and think might work for lovers of stories.

Any suggestions and ideas will be gratefully received. I will be ordering our bookstall over the next couple of weeks and will blog the final order so you can see what I’ve ended up with. I am also starting to think about advertising the bookstall. As we’ve an Olympics theme this year (suspect this will be the case for every activity for young people this summer) I am planning on promoting ‘Training Manuals’ and using the Joker and the Engineer as Fit and Flabby who train with contrasting equipment eg Nintendo DS vs Bible etc.

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Now it’s June, we’re into the preparing-for-camp season. My Facebook timeline is strewn with appeals for helpers for various ventures around the country, Rocky and Bee are busy confirming exactly who is coming from our youth group and making sure we have the funds, the Vicar has booked the minibus and now my thoughts are turning to the bookstall that I’ll be running again this year.

Last year I had lots of fun planning the stall and reviewed a few books in the process. We had 50 or so 11-14 year olds from a range of booky and non-booky backgrounds. That younger secondary school end covers a wide range of abilities and maturity. Some kids were from Christian homes, some didn’t come to church at all. So the bookstall aimed to cover a pretty wide base.

We got our bookstall from the always-obliging 10 of Those, who have just launched a special camp bookstall service which I’ll be using this year. If they don’t have the book you want on their website, they will get it for you.

Bibles – we had great value NIVs costing about £5 which went like hot cakes, but these will be more expensive this year because there’s a new translation out. So I’m not sure how many we’ll sell. This year we’ll be studying Mark’s gospel at camp so I’m going to stock them – and they will be affordable, even if whole bibles are too pricey.

Bible reading notes – I stocked XTB (for 7-11s0, Discover (11s-14s) and Engage (14s-18s). They didn’t sell all that well.

Bible guide – We sold a good few copies of the YP’s Guide to the Bible – it only cost £2.50 and was affordable and interesting to look at.

Boring Bible series and 50 Weirdest/Goriest/Wildest Bible Stories (and similar by Andy Robb) – these cost £4.50 and are undated bible devotions. They were very popular and I’ll be stocking up this year.

For Girls Only & No Girls Allowed – These gendered devotional books sold well – I stocked a couple of each, but could have sold more. These are a little more expensive – around £8.

Grill a Christian – We sold this book at £2 – it’s packed with apologetics. Very popular with older Pathfinders (and with folk at church where I sold off some spare copies after camp).

The Case for Christ (Youth Edition), Case for Faith for Kids, Case for Christ for Kids – these sold well too.

Deadly Emily by Kathy Lee – I was very encouraged to sell this book to a couple of girls who aren’t great readers. I will be stocking more fiction for those who find non-fiction (even biographies) a bit heavy going. I am increasingly convinced that teenagers and preteens who love to read stories (like the Queen) should be reading stories with a Christian worldview. You can tell the truth in fiction.

Trailblazer biographies – we sold a bunch of these shortish books at £3. They are biographies and we stocked a variety, including ones of John Newton, Joni Eareckson Tada, Mary Slessor, Amy Carmichael etc. There are lots of these, including a new Eric Liddell one, which will be on our stall for our Olympic theme this year.

Lightkeepers (Ten Girls/Ten Boys series) – these are also short biography books. They also sold well at £3.

Sneaking Suspicion, If I were God I’d… (by John Dickson) – We sold these to some of the older teenage boys.

School Survival – An excellent book on school life.

Peril and Peace – we sold this book of church history to an older Pathfinder who was looking for something stretching. This is one of a series of 5 Chronicles of the Ancient Church.

We sold a few booklets like: Why did Jesus Die? Why did Jesus Come? Why did Jesus Rise? How do I know I’m a Christian? How do I show I’m a Christian? These were only 20p so a few kids picked them up.

I also bunged a few books on the stall for leaders – including the excellent Enough by Helen Roseveare.

 Later I’ll post a list of some new books I’m planning to stock this year. Both 10ofthose and The Good Book Company have published books for younger teens this year.

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We’ve had many favourite kids’ bibles over the years in the Vicarage (and previously in the Curatage, the Ordinandage and the Engineerage). Top reads have included The Jesus Storybook Bible, the Big Picture Story Bible, the Praise Bible (sourced in a secondhand shop) and (when they were very little) The God Loves Me Bible. For a while the Engineer was very keen on the Veggietales Bible Storybook, and whilst I wouldn’t recommend it for teaching kids great doctrine or anything, his enjoyment more than made up for the struggles we had with reading about Dave and the Giant Pickle repeatedly. I think he learnt to read his first words from that book. As I recall, they were ‘God’ (yay!) and ‘Dave’ (not such a yay for that one).

Our kids love variety so we are always hunting for the newest best bible. All our kids can read a ‘proper’ bible now and the Engineer had been using an International Children’s Bible and the excellent XTB bible reading notes. He’d just finished a set of notes when I went on my conference the other week, where there was a hard-to-resist bookstall where they were selling The Gospel Story Bible.

I had a look through and decided that the 7yo Engineer might enjoy reading through this for a change from his bible notes. The way in which the bible stories are told pointing to Christ are so helpful. And each story comes with a few questions to help the child clarify what they’ve read and learnt. And this evening the Engineer skipped into the kitchen just before bedtime and told me he’d read three bible stories all by himself. He was so excited to communicate all that he’d learnt about the plagues and the Passover.

That’s a winner of a bible for me. Which bible do your kids read or have read to them? Do you have a family favourite?

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Kids find it hard to sit still at the best of times, but as I read with children at our church school I’ve noticed a few who just can’t keep themselves in a single place when they’re reading aloud, let alone doing it whilst listening to others read or reading to themselves. I liked this illustration of the phenomenon I found recently:[HT: Abraham Piper]

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I know I know, Lent began yesterday. But just in case you’ve meant to start something and forgot. Or maybe you’d just like to try something extremely worthwhile without worrying about exactly when you begin or end: the Bible Society have got a fantastic idea – wouldn’t it be great to listen to the whole of the New Testament? It will only take 28 minutes a day if you listen every day for the 40 days of Lent. They have a special new recording of the CEV, from Riding Lights theatre company. They also have a Welsh language version available. There’s also a free CD pack available. The Bible Society are obviously keen that we would contribute towards their work if we benefit from this project, but the audio downloads are free on the website.

Here in the Vicarage, we’re trying to listen to a chapter (or two) of the bible at teatime this Lent – we’ve been playing the audio on Biblegateway.com on the kitchen computer. We’ve been impressed by how quiet the kids are as we listen. Early days yet, tho’. But we have found the audio bible a good way to nourish ourselves with larger chunks of scripture.

If you have a tablet, or a smartphone, you can do the same thing using the free Daily Bible app.

So I think it’s worth a listen. Even if I don’t manage the whole New Testament in exactly 40 days, I’ll have taken in more scripture than usual, and that’s only going to be a help since

… faith comes through hearing…

Romans 10v17

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