When I was a kid, I read anything I saw that had words. Occasionally, I noticed books lying around that interested me. I didn’t know where they came from, but since it was out I would take the time to read them. It took me many years to realize that my mother knew about my tendency and purposely left books or articles around that she thought I needed or would find helpful.
Now, truthfully, you can give a child a book in a overbearing way (“You should read this” or “You have to read this”) or in a respectful way (“I think you might like this book because…” or “I think you would find this book helpful because….”) On the other hand, since there are plenty of times where it is necessary to require a certain behavior, it is worthwhile for me to consider the power of suggestion as a tool to teaching.
So I’ve been experimenting with this approach. I put Christian biographies in our bookshelves, mixed in with the picture books. That’s for my daughter who reads like me. She discovered I put a few Warren Wiersbe commentaries in the shelf, too (The “Be” series is a little above her head, but is quite simple and accessible). I noticed she found How to Study the Bible by Torrey that I placed there awhile back. So this strategy works great for her.
My son is a different nut to crack. He doesn’t “peruse” the bookshelves, and he also resists nagging. Hmph. I have found that I can leave a book on a table and say something about it that will pique his curiosity. I’ve also found that he does pay attention if I make a recommendation if I connect it to something he’s said. For example, I asked him awhile back what God was teaching him. One of the things he mentioned was that he knew he should be reading/listening to the Bible more. So the other day, I told him that his Aunt Shannon wrote a book that he might like that would help him with his goal of reading the Bible more. [Notice that I was identifying HIS goal. This is what my mom would say is a part of cultivating teamwork.] He picked up the book, started reading it, and it’s now in his bedroom.
There are other ways to teach indirectly. Can you think of others?