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Turn your teens into readers with this annotated list of over 300 books. Hunt discusses techniques for getting young people excited about books and shows how to guide them in their choices. Hampton's annotated listing features books that have stood the test of time and includes works from Rudyard Kipling, George MacDonald, Madeleine L'Engle, Clyde Edgerton, and others.
We can strip the knight of his armor, to reveal that he looks exactly like us, or we can try on the armor ourselves to experience how it feels. Fiction provides an ideal opportunity to try on the armor. C. S. Lewis
Dinner was over at 6:30. We switched the telephone ringer to the off position and went into the living room to read the next chapter of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring. Just as we sat down, the doorbell rang. It was Mark's friend from down the street who wanted to hear the chapter with us. The two of them sprawled their lanky teen-age bodies across the floor, and Father began reading. It took twenty minutes to read the chapter aloud, and the length of the next chapter was too long to allow us to sneak in a second one. We all made some kind of noise at the end of the reading: a sigh, comments on the adventure and the plot line, or pleasure at "words fitly spoken." Then we got up and left the world of the shire and hobbits and went about our business-homework, a meeting, the dishes.
After we had begun reading the book aloud in the car on the way home from skiing one weekend, we knew that we had to finish the experience together. When we completed this first book of the trilogy, we were hooked on the adventure of these hobbits and easily wooed into the second volume. By the time we got to the third volume. The Return of the King, summer had come and we were all together, canoe-camping on the edge of a lake in Canada. Each night we read around the fire in the fading light, with the night sounds of loons echoing across the lake. Even on the day it rained and the wind blew its arctic coldness into our campsite, we all huddled into one tent, snuggled into sleeping bags, and took turns reading chapter after chapter, going on an adventure far beyond the one we had canceled because of the rain. Sometimes the reader would have to pause because a lump in the throat was stopping the words. We would look around to find tears trickling from everyone's eyes. Feelings of closeness and understanding are woven into our memories of the marvelous adventure of the Tolkien trilogy-because we shared the books together.
Books are meant to be shared. Sometimes they are read aloud together. Often they are simply shared in answer to the question. "Have you read any good books lately?" It's a question we ought to ask regularly because we don't want to miss any good ones. I will always be grateful for teachers who handed books to me, saying, "I think you'll like this." In the same way, I will always be grateful for all the times teenagers have given me books-and still give me books, saying, "This is a good book. You'll like it." We respect each other's opinions. Sharing a book makes for a delightful companionship. It is sharing yourself.
Probably everyone has had the experience of reading a book so good that they could hardly wait to find someone who has read it too. When ninth-grader Tim read A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck, the story evoked deep and even confusing emotions inside him, and he wanted to talk with someone about it. Since the story is about a young man and his father, he asked his dad to read it. His dad had a similar reaction to the story, and one evening they went for a walk together-just to talk about it.
Barbara Hampton's family reads aloud as they travel. She says they have a good time because everyone is together, and reading makes the miles pass quickly. One day, reading Arthur Ransome's We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea as they traveled, they became so engrossed in the story that they missed their exit and ended up in another city. They hadn't meant to go to Canton, Ohio!
When our son was a freshman in college, he came home for spring break one time, bearing Charles Williams's Descent Into Hell, and he suggested that we read it together on our trip to Florida. As we drove down Highway 19, we neared the end of the story just as we were nearing our destination. Since we wanted to finish the story before arriving, we found ourselves driving more slowly so as not to break the spell of the story. It is one of our favorite memories.
Just last summer fifteen-year-old Lindsay excused herself from a conversation with me and rushed off to catch up with a friend who was passing by. She called back over her shoulder to me as she left, "I want her to read this new book by Janette Oke. It's great; they don't come any better than this!"
Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, says that next to being hugged, reading aloud is probably the longest-lasting experience of childhood. Reading aloud together is important for all the reasons that talking together is important-inspiration, guidance, education, bonding, communication, understanding, and sharing. When people read together, they give each other a piece of their mind and a piece of their time, and that says a good deal about human worth. If your family doesn't read together already, why not start reading to them? Find something wonderfully funny, interesting, or beautiful and read it aloud to them. You'll come to know them in a new way.
When our son, Mark, found the girl he wanted to marry, they spent evenings together reading aloud. They read Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, Robin Hood, and all the other books that she had never read that were an important part of Mark's past. Then they read from her list. I thought, "Not a bad idea." It gives them a common cultural heritage as well as a bond of sharing.
Sharing books makes for good companionship. It is the special fellowship of "readers." It opens up a whole new world for those who enter it. If you have never experienced it, begin soon. Share a good book with someone you care about.
Why Read? When asked why they read, some teenagers answer bluntly, "Because my teachers and parents make me." My suspicion is they have only experienced books as "have-to" projects. They've never found out what stories are for. They think of reading only for assigned book reports in which they must follow a dull formula to analyze its meaning, identify the main character, write two paragraphs to summarize the plot, tell whether they'd recommend it to a friend, and so on. In many cases it's done the night before, with a quick flip through the pages to find the main character and an attempt to rewrite the blurb on the book cover.
But that's not what reading is all about. A good story is meant to be a treat, not a treatment. Stories are for magic, for grand adventure, for making you feel and see things, to take you places you've never been. A book is the greatest learning device ever invented. You can take it with you, loan it to a friend, put it on a shelf, and pass it on to your children years later. Books offer sheer enjoyment. They give the reader remarkable new insights, even if it is only learning to laugh a bit harder at what is ridiculous in life. They nourish the inside of you, speak to your fears and dreams without your knowing it, and give you a wider look at the world. Books become friends. You get so you can't wait to meet up with a new one, hoping it will be the best you have ever read!
Excerpted from Read for Your Life by Gladys M. Hunt Barbara Hampton Copyright © 1992 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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