Bookish Treats!

We’re in full-on Thanksgiving Retreat preparation mode over here at Gracepoint Berkeley church, so I’m going to be “taking it easy” and featuring photos and videos this week. As an evangelist of great stories, as well as THE Story, I’m very excited about this year’s retreat theme of God’s Story, but I’ll stop there, and leave the rest for this weekend!

It warmed my heart to receive this bookish treat from Emily, the 1st grader (not a present from myself), who went to Boston with her family. I was pleasantly surprised to find this waiting for me on my desk. Bookmarks are wonderful souvenirs because you can always use one (unless you don’t read!), and they don’t take up much space in your suitcase. So unlike some other souvenirs, they are definite win-wins for both the giver and the receiver! 🙂

I especially love the curly details in the fancy post-it note. They show a lot of care and effort!

Do you use bookmarks? Proper ones, or do you make them out of scraps or post-its? Or do you turn down (aka. “dog ear*”) your pages?


*Confession: I often dog-ear my pages. Gasp!

Being “All There” When Reading with or to Your Kids

In our go-go-go, “Always On” kind of society, having real quality time with the people we care about most in our lives is a rare thing. Studies show that our kids are being shortchanged the most in all of this. Sadly, they are growing up in a world where to expect face-to-face conversation that is unhindered and uninterrupted by devices, even or especially with their parents, is considered “too much” and unrealistic.

Before I get too carried away with this topic — I want to save it for a review of an amazing book I’m reading right now about this very issue — I will do the “picture is worth a thousand words” thing. I’ll even throw in a video, so that must be worth a few more words! 

There’s a way in which we can turn reading to our kids into a task, something good we know we should do but only one in a long list if things we need to “get done.” We might even have our phones out and check them on the sly. But our kids notice everything. And when we do this, we forfeit a wonderful way to relate with and have a conversation with our kids, and reinforcing this way of always being “somewhere else,” even with our kids, whom we love very much.

Truly reading with or to your kids is an activity that requires a lot of care, wouldn’t you say? (I’m finding a way to connect each week’s photo challenge to reading!) Here’s a picture of Pastor Ed Kang reading to the kiddos during he and Kelly’s recent visit down to our Gracepoint Riverside & Irvine churches.

Photo and video credit to Kelly Kang, who you can tell from the video is trying to get some love from Kaylee on behalf of Anna. 🙂

And here is a video of the actual “slightly” paraphrased reading from Shel Silverstein’s classic The Giving Tree.

The Giving Tree – as read by Uncle Pastor Ed from hemilykim on Vimeo.

I know we all live busy lives, but when you set aside some time to spend reading with or to your kids, I want to encourage you to be *ALL THERE*. That means you’ll have to put away your devices and open yourself to the possibility of some conversation! I promise, your email and text messages will still be there afterwards. 🙂

Do you have any fond memories of reading with your kids? Or being read to by your parents, or others? How about thoughts on The Giving Tree…do you think it deserves all the hype? Share your thoughts!

Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

It’s a fine line between Ordinary and Extraordinary. Here at Gracepoint Berkeley church, I’m happy to be part of increasing the momentum of a culture shift, where reading is not only cool, it’s a given. Today’s picture is so mundane to me, but when I take a step back, I recognize the (Extra)ordinary in it. These middle school guys could be lost in the myriad Internet wormholes out there, playing video games, or just otherwise metaphorically or literally rolling around doing nothing. Instead they’re voluntarily coming to a library for independent reading. They don’t get community service points or extra credit for this. We don’t do any special programs. I have classical music playing, and pretty much leave them alone. We just read. (I actually get the most reading done during my times with these guys, so I personally look forward to it. Which some might find extraordinary in and of itself!)

Middle school guys totally in the zone — the auto reading zone — reading books that they *chose* to come to Bibliopolis to read. For an hour! (And some come early, just because.)

What’s your verdict: Ordinary or Extraordinary?