Monday, 30 November 2015

Starting Young by Jean Gibson

My eldest grandson is eight years old.  Having been read to from his earliest days, he has always loved books and over the past year has begun to read for himself.  He still likes to be read to, but realises he can devour many more books on his own than if he has to wait for someone elses availability.  At family gatherings he can often be found stretched out on the floor, chin on hands,  a book in front of him.  He is in another world, oblivious to what is going on around. His six year old brother is reading beginner books and his two year old sister thinks she can read everything.

As a lifetime bookaholic, it brings joy to my heart to watch my grandchildren reading.  I delight in introducing them to books I have loved over the years.  And I love reading the stories they are beginning to put together themselves.  I look back to my childhood attempts at telling stories and writing plays for my friends to act out and remember that uninhibited enthusiasm to share my writing. Across the generations my grandchildren and I revel in the shared joy of words and stories.

One interest leads to another.  Reading Bible stories, talking of Gods love for them, praying with them as I tuck them in at night are a precious privilege I dont take lightly.  I hope that as they grow we will be able to share stories of Gods work in our lives and that they will come to understand the most important story of all.

As Christian writers we face the ongoing discussion of how overt we should be in sharing our faith in our writing. My grandchildren don't want to read Bible stories, or Christian books, all the time.  They enjoy them but they revel in a wide choice of books and stories.  I want them to have access to many stories that portray Christian themes in a positive light.  I want their understanding of the Bible to sharpen their understanding of beauty, forgiveness, integrity, care for others, self-sacrifice, when they meet them in different contexts.  And I would love children who have little Bible background to be exposed to these themes too. 

Psalm 78:4 reminds us We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power and the wonders he has done.  For those of you writing for children and young people - please keep writing these stories that let them know there is something more to life than the world around them.

Last week my fourth grandchild was born.  As a child of reading parents and grandparents, I suspect that he will love books as much as his cousins do.  Im already hoping and planning to be part of his literary - and spiritual - experience.

Jean Gibson was involved in theological training in Kenya for eight years and for fifteen years was the national representative in N Ireland for the Christian charity Care for the Family. She now lives on the east coast of Northern Ireland with her husband Brian when they are not travelling or childminding in Scotland.  Among other books and articles she has written Journey of Hope, the story of her travels through Kenya and Malawi.  She can be found at  and you can follow the exploits of her wider family including grandchildren and 94 year old father on Facebook.


  1. It is so true that if you foster a love of reading early on you will continue to read throughout life. Thanks for this

  2. I think reading and sharing books with our kids and grand-kids which embrace Christian themes, is a wonderful way to prepare them for life and faith. Great post :)

  3. It's important for your relationship with them as well. When my two closest granddaughters were growing up, I often made up on-the-spot stories for them and we had various characters and settings that featured so we had different series going on. They would bring me a collection of things - toys, ornaments, etc and challenge me to make up a story ( sometimes name which series they wanted it in) using all the things. Recently, the older girl was writing her uni application 'personal statement' (she wants to do Eng. Lit.) and describing her own antd her family's love of books. And she wrote: ' My grandmother is a writer and she filled my childhood with impromptu stories'. She gave me it to proofread and I have to admit my eyes were a little tear-y at that bit!

  4. Our grandson was and is an avid reader, but now he's ten he's also an avid computer games player. It will be interesting to see if his love of books stays with him as he becomes a teenager.

    1. Veronica, my granddaughters' love of books has stayed. They even prefer printed to ebooks. They seem to find time for Facebook, YouTube, etc but fit in hours of reading as well. So, here's hoping for your grandson!