I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Reading Article Index
Click on the article title to read the entire article.

Why Read Fiction?
Last week we saw how the wrong story can influence greatly in The Danger of the Wrong Story —changing our children's beliefs.
I've mentioned before, but I'll say it again—after our library remodeled and removed all the classics and stocked the young adult and youth section with the new style of books—their covers were dark, evil and oppressive—I stopped going to the library.

What are we to do?
Ban all fiction?


The Danger of a Wrong Story
Last week, I gave two examples of how stories can bring truth to hearts.
We, as parents, should do diligence to know what our children are reading and taking to heart.
I’ve never critiqued Harry Potter, other than to stay far from it.
I didn’t want to read them and therefore felt I could not fairly analyze them, but I always felt the evil in spite of that.
Nor did I allow my boys to read them.

Many educators praised them. For now they could get their students to read!
Was it worth it?


Using Stories To Teach Lessons
We learn best through stories.
It's not a coincidence Jesus spoke in stories. 
Stories resonate in our hearts, reaching not only our minds but our beings.
Give a child a story with lessons, and they will have the truth hidden in their hearts.
That's why traditions were started—usually to teach or illustrate something.
Here's two.

Reading Chair Worth Using
Looking for a good reading chair? or sewing chair? or nursing chair?
One that’s cheap, durable, child-friendly and comfortable.
Look no further.

What's in a Book, Anyway?
Do you read to your child?
Somehow as moms we have lost the time to read to our children. Not that we don’t want to, but….

When I nursed, I often read to the older boys. I had a glider big enough to allow the toddler who still needed my touch to sit beside me, while I nursed the baby and the other boys lounged on the floor. We explored together the adventures of Little House on the Prairie, Little Britches, and so many others. Sometimes the reading continued long after the nursing baby fell asleep, just because I needed to rest and we were at a good place in the book. And who wants to stop?

Worth Reading
Going to the library the past few years has been a source of frustration. Not only for my own reading, but also for finding books suitable to read aloud to the children. Many of the good-old books have been replaced with modern, magical, even scary books. I sigh and end up reading what we have on our shelves at home---good books, and worth re-reading, but not over and over in a few months’ time.

What have we found recently that stirs the heart, shores the courage and develops the character?

The Home Library: A Source of Peace, Calm, and Security
by Guest Writer Randy Weiss.
This article is printed by permission from Jim and Randy Weiss's newsletter: Jim Weiss Newsletter, Intelligent entertainment for the Thinking Family.

Reading: It's for Your Children

What Kind of Library Are You Building?
Early in our marriage, I received counsel. “You can skimp on most things, but don’t skimp on tools and good books.”

We have since built a library for the boys. We made sure they had how-to books, history books, biographies, inspirational books, and classics. We tried to include adventure, and those that challenged boys to become men. We have commentaries, concordances, dictionaries, counseling books, textbooks. See what the books the boys consistently liked to read.

The Bible with a Heart
What does a book do for you? 
When I read, I enter a different world,
where problems are solved at the end of the book,
where an average, every-day person met with unsurmountable obstacles, yet still comes out okay,
where mistakes, no matter how bad, can be fixed,
where hope still reigns,
where good can be found,
where strength brings victory.
That’s why I like the Bible.
good wins,
hope is found,
strength comes,
answers are there.

When I go to the Bible, I found my direction. I see people, just like me, who have problems, make stupid mistakes, yet still hang onto God’s strength with the hope—and promise of a good ending.

Stressed? Read a Book
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

My husband reminds people who are stressed that if they are doing what they should, their burden will be light. "My burden is light." The answer isn’t less work or less hours or a vacation; it is doing His Work. Christ’s burden is light. He even puts on His yoke—a tool for plowing and working, yet He gives rest. The work isn’t the stress. When the work becomes the stress, then evaluate the work.

What is His work for you?


Books that Influence
In The Book that Changed My Life, 71 different authors were asked what one book they could attribute to influencing them the most.

It was interesting to note the authors variety of what motivated them. One author cited The Engine that Could. It was the benchmark of all books that changed his life. Another said the Sears Catalogue for it gave a vision of flawless perfection, teaching the difference between a gas-powered and an electric-powered arc welder. Opening a new world of what could be.

The books were not a certain genre or topic. They touched the reader where they were and brought them to another world, a world of problems that were solved, dreams that were met, differences that were rectified. The book reached the reader where he was and brought him to a better place.

What Is a Good Book?
Do you have books that you have read more than once? What draws you to them in the first place? What makes you return to them again even when you know the ending? 

Isn’t that why the classics are ‘classics’? They are valued for their ability to draw the reader to read it again and again. C.S. Lewis said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally and often far more worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” 

But what makes you re-read it? Cornelia Funke describes, “A reader doesn’t really see the characters in a story; he feels them.” 

Along the lines of feeling the character, Pancho Villa (1877?-1923) said, “The best moments in reading are when you come across something—a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things—that you’d thought special, particular to you, and here it is set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead, and it’s as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.” 

“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.” Paul Sweeney said. 

Escape for a Moment of Time

When my husband was deployed for a year, I seemed to have more time. Maybe because I couldn’t sleep or maybe because I started a new book at 8 PM when the younger boys were asleep and then I would HAVE to finish the book that night. I finished 3-5 books a week. I found the plot varied, characters changed, and settings changed, but they all seemed to have the same, predictable theme. 

I continued to read because it was an escape--a dream of what I was missing. My husband gone; my teenages boys needing counsel beyond me. The books led me away from my world and into a world that could be fixed in a night. The problems resolved without my acting like a witch. The setting away from the dirt and mud of where we live. But the escape didn’t last and the next day I met with my own problems that could not be fixed by a night, the witch didn’t go away, and the dirt and mud certainly stayed well planted in my house. 




What Is Fiction Good for?
Fiction has been condemned, by some, as a waste of time, and an unreal grasp at reality. But with fiction, the world is a better place. Here’s why...

The Case for Good Taste in Children's Books
The following is adapted from a speech delivered at Hillsdale College on March 12, 2013, sponsored by the College’s Dow Journalism Program.

 One June 4, 2011, the number one trending topic on Twitter was the Anthony Weiner scandal. I happen to remember that, because the number two topic on Twitter that day—almost as frenzied, though a lot less humorous—had to do with an outrageous, intolerable attack on Young Adult literature… by me. Entitled “Darkness Too Visible,” my article discussed the increasingly dark current that runs through books classified as YA, for Young Adult—books aimed at readers between 12 and 18 years of age—a subset that has, in the four decades since Young Ault became a distinct category in fiction, become increasingly lurid, grotesque, profane, sexual, and ugly.

 Books show us the world, and in that sense, too many books for adolescents act like funhouse mirrors, reflecting hideously distorted portrayals of life. 

What Should Fiction Do?
 1. A book should teach truth. 
Emotions tied to values are harder to discern and to separate than when the same values are presented without an emotional base. Books should present an accurate view of who we are.

Fiction is telling a made-up story but still showing who we really are. The values presented are what is true. 
2. Books should show beauty. 


What Does a 5-Star Book Mean?
When I go to a 5-star hotel, I expect an experience of grandeur and superb service. Everyone smiles. I’m in a world of make-believe for a night in time. My husband has taken me to a few. The grandeur and architecture reminds me that I need to shut my mouth and pretend that I am accustomed to such a life. 

When my boys and I traveled across country to see my folks, we stopped at Motel 6. We didn’t expect grandeur. After 14 hours on the road for the second day of travel, all we wanted was a courteous receptionist, a bed and a good rate. 

What do you expect when you see a book rated 5 stars? I prepare myself for a good read that I would read again. It takes me into another world, for a short time. I live the character’s part. I live another life until the cover closes. When the cover closes, I wish that it could go on or maybe just relive it. 

Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover
I was asked recently, "What influences you to read a book?" Perhaps my immediate response was shallow and non-thinking. I look at the cover and determine if it’s worth opening the page. But what do I see that makes that determination? Is it just the picture, or the layers of intrigue or the unfinished questions? I can usually pick out a book by a certain publisher; their style and photography have their own fingerprint. Other books I put down because of their simplistic drawings and homey appeal, many by another predictable publisher.

Have I missed good books by judging too sternly?