Fostering love of good reading in the children & adults (& college students!) of Gracepoint Berkeley Church and Davis, Austin, Minneapolis, San Diego, Riverside, Hsinchu, Los Angeles, Irvine, Santa Barbara, Seattle!
While our Recycling Fundraiser is going strong, we introduce a fundraiser that might be a bit more popular. Books & Tea (or Coffee), a pretty awesome combo. Even C.S. Lewis, who famously said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me” agrees!
We don’t have prices, but as it is a fundraiser, we appreciate any and all donations. The kiddos and I appreciate it all — 100% goes towards books! So stop on by some time.
Another question commonly asked of me by parents at Gracepoint Berkeley church is, “How do you become a reader?” And like many questions, the answer seems a bit too pat. Can you guess what it is? I most often say, “You become a reader…through reading.” (For those of you who figured it out from the title of the post — good test-taking skills!)
Of course there’s so much to the answer, but like other identities we grow into, it’s all in the doing. Today, I want to focus on the social aspect of reading. We often conceive of reading as a solitary activity, and while it most definitely is, from the earliest age we see that reading is very much social as well. Perhaps it is actually reading together, being read to, reading to someone else, or just talking about books. There’s a reason crazy fandoms develop around books!
While I could write on and on about this, I received this photo from our young readers at Gracepoint Minneapolis church, and yes, I do think it’s worth about a thousand words. 🙂
Sammy, who is an early reader, exemplifies the social nature of reading. He memorized the great board book classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?. So he happily and confidently read the book to his younger friends. Not only is he introducing the younger ones to books, but he is building into his growing identity as a reader. A win-win!
We haven’t had a reader book review in a while. Today’s is from Jenny at Gracepoint Berkeley Church, who shares with us her thoughts after having read A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis. I think it speaks for itself, so I will leave you to it.
This book is really just that –a grief observed–the tortured grief of C.S. Lewis losing his beloved wife to cancer, compiled in a collection of his personal reflections. The book is a significant departure from his most popular works like Mere Christianity or The Problem of Pain, where Lewis is at his armchair, describing reality and life with honesty and wit, deftly persuading us of truth of Christianity. This book is different. This is Lewis doubled over by loss and trying to make sense of life and God in the midst of it.
For someone going through loss of a loved one, I can imagine reading this book being a balm to the pain… Because it’s someone you admire deeply saying, “I’ve been there too”– not in a tidy, sanitized manner after the fact, but a real-time messy reflection full of doubts, unanswered questions and honest pain, that maybe can give voice to the chaos inside. In one heartbreaking entry, he writes of visiting all their favorite places, anticipating a heightened sense of her absence but when he doesn’t feel that, he realizes “her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”
His more famous book, The Problem of Pain, which Lewis wrote to to provide an intellectual response to suffering, was written 20 years before A Grief Observed. Losing his wife turns out to be the crucible in which all the theory he writes in The Problem of Pain is tested. He writes in A Grief Observed, “Nothing will shake a man – or at any rate a man like me – out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.”
A Grief Observed is one of the few CS Lewis books I never wanted to read. But the past year and a half, I’ve attended more funerals than I ever had in my life and sat with people, most of whom younger than me, who’ve faced losses greater than anything I’ve experienced. Grief was something on my mind a lot so I finally picked up this book. And I found that it provided a window into the grief of losing a loved one, but also of losing things you can never retrieve again. It also provided a hard look at walking through difficulty as a Christian, of having one’s faith refined or demolished and remade in the fire of pain and struggle. One quote I kept going back to was this:
“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”
If grief has been on your mind lately, maybe this book can help.
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
This year, while the 4th graders and up are participating in the 40-Book Reading Challenge, some of the 1st-3rd graders are trying the A-Z Reading Challenge. The challenge is to read at least one book starting with each letter of the alphabet (either by title or author). Here are Sophie (3rd grade) and Lucy (2nd grade), as well as Jamie (Pre-School), recommending books to each other, and having some fun. 🙂
People are starting to get competitive about the Free 5th Book Ceremony, especially as I called out (in a friendly way!) certain groups of people…but we have to remember that the most important thing is not finishing books as fast as possible, but allowing yourself the time to be inspired, ministered to, and challenged by what you read!
When you’ve finished reading your 4th book, you just find me at DL or HB and we have our free 5th book ceremony. That entails chit-chatting a little about the books you read while you choose your free 5th book, and you pose for a photo that will be on our Wall of Fame (coming soon). And just because it makes things a bit more fun, everyone gets a 1st award in one or more categories. You’ll note some of the categories are pretty…specialized. 🙂
You may have noticed that there are some demographics noticeably absent in the wall of fame thus far — special call for all the post-grad brothers, IGSM, and a2f Berkeley readers out there to represent!
Which book are you going to choose for your free 5th book?
This past Wednesday, February 3rd, was no ordinary Wednesday. Over at Gracepoint Austin church, we had the official Grand Opening of Bibliopolis Austin. Here is some on-the-ground reportage from Laura Fong, our very own Longhorn Librarian. 🙂
After seeing all the awesome things happening at Bibliopolis in Berkeley and the recent opening of the Minneapolis branch, we just couldn’t stand to be left out! Some of us decided we just had to have our own branch…our very own Longhorn Library! I know everything is supposed to be bigger in Texas, and while our humble library may not bigger (yet) than Berkeley’s, and we don’t have a fun hanging chair like Minneapolis, we are quite happy with our very own reading castle, reading nook with curtains and hanging lights, and bean bags that were generously donated by one of the uncles.
Even before the Grand Opening, our very own fourth grader (aka Mik) donated many of her books, prepared a Grand Opening flyer for all the families, and printed up a library schedule for all to see. One of the kindergarteners wanted to donate her books too, but we reminded her that she has younger siblings who might benefit from having them at home 😛 Then all the children decorated book bags during JScouts to keep their library books safe when they took them home.
Finally, the big day arrived when Bibliopolis Austin would finally open! One child said, “I can’t believe it’s really happening! I thought it was just a dream..I didn’t think it would actually happen!” There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony after which the children saw the library for the first time. They did a scavenger hunt to familiarize themselves with the organization of the library and learn how to properly handle the books, and they each got their own bag of gummy worms to remind themselves that they are now official “Bibliopolis bookworms” (to be eaten outside of the library, of course)!
A big thank you to Emily for getting this reading ball rolling. We look forward to many fun and educational times in our very own library!
Here’s a video to commemorate the beginnings of Bibliopolis Austin! I’m personally so excited to go and visit soon — I know Laura and so many others have put a lot of thought and care into making Bibliopolis Austin a reality, and it’s evident from the video that it was a lot of work, not only to build it all, but to commemorate its opening as well — a true labor of love. I’m looking forward to hearing of many wonderful reading moments happening through their times spend there!