Single mom and raising him alone – Part Two

Experiencing the joys and wonders of reading.

Experiencing the joys and wonders of reading.

If technology has improved on anything, it has certainly taken video games to a whole new level. Stroll down the video game aisle and see an array of titles that guaranteed to have your head spinning. What became of Pac-Man? Remember when that was the game of choice? Times have certainly changed. And with that change has come an even greater need for sons to develop and maintain a degree of discipline that is perhaps as unprecedented as ever. Video game producers spend millions researching just what a game should have in order to hold the player’s rapt attention. It is no accident that many youth can spend hour after hour compiling their “Dream Team” or giving considerable thought to which weapon would most effectively eliminate the menacing enemy but find it next to impossible to sit still long enough to read a book that  doesn’t contain pictures on each page. Therein lies the challenge; how to compete with the NBA 2K10s of the day.

Dr. Lenard Sax , author of Boys Adrift speaks to the profound impact video games are having on the social and academic lives of boys. Statistics indicate that boys between the ages of 8-16 have ten times more video games on their shelves than books. Ps3, Wii, and X Box 360 are more likely to be found in the homes of young males than many of the classic books of all time. Imagine how many books could be read in the time it takes a teen to master a video game. Parents would be wise to step in and control the number of hours he spends playing the games of his choice. Establish a ratio of books read to games owned.  For instance requiring him to read two books for every game he owns is a ratio certain to ignite his curiosity and desire to further  explore pages of other books.  “Why” you may ask, “Is so much emphasis being placed on reading?” Consider the following comments from those for whom reading made a difference in their lives:

Other than [my father], I relied on books. During [the] time of withdrawal in junior high I had my own private word, and my most  prized possession was my library card from the Oakland Public Library. —–Bill Russell

[In prison,] in every free moment I had, if I was not reading in the library, I was reading on my bunk…No university would ask any student to devour literature as I did. —–Malcolm X

Malcolm X, like many other men, discovered the wonders of reading while incarcerated. This revelation literally saved his life. It was through reading he learned to appreciate history and his people’s contributions to history and to the world. It was through reading he that gained the knowledge and confidence that would so adequately equip him with the skills he would need to fulfill his life’s calling.

Stanley “Tookie” Williams, co-founder of the notorious Crips gang is another example of how reading not only changed him but  in a real sense, saved his life. Mr. Williams, after spending decades in prison,  would go on to be executed by the state of California for murder. Yet, what makes him worthy of note, is his decision to denounce gang violence and his being moved to  write a number of thought provoking children books that admonished  youth of the evils of gang membership. His books are continuing to be read worldwide. Mr. Williams wanted his legacy to be more than having been a gang leader; he wanted to also be remembered for having been redeemed.

Deep and wide reading can open doors to opportunities and a world of adventure. Your son is much more likely to make reading part of his life if reading is a part of yours. Are there books on the coffee table? The bathrooms are excellent places to position a magazine rack. After all, everyone has to sit down at one time or another, why not avail yourself to the opportunity to multi-task?

The Bible (l Corinthians 13:11) states:

“When I became a MAN, I put away childish things.”

Becoming a man does not require that video games and the like be boxed and placed in the attic. For certain there are many responsible men that enjoy their moments with many of the games currently available on the market. Yet, the re-prioritizing of time is of great importance to many men as they continue to watch it and life pass by with ever increasing speed. To introduce a young male to the magnificent joys of reading is to quicken the likelihood of a “light bulb” going off in his head and illuminating his path to manhood and self-actualization.

To your journey!

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