For the past two years, I have had the opportunity to be with 5 grade 8/9, now 9/10, girls through my church youth group. This year I got backup and have an awesome co-leader to these crazy kids
I have had a little more time on my hands this year compared to last year. Instead of working 40+ hours a week with just lunch breaks because we were so busy, I get 2 hour stretches throughout the day of my little one napping. Which brings me to this: I did not realize last year how much my girls LOVE to read. I know, lots of teenagers wouldn’t think reading is fun, but the majority of these girls fly through books. When I realized this, I started to notice they like to read the same books and then discuss them, but they don’t discuss things like “That was a nice book to read, I can’t wait to read all this author’s books”. They are more like, “I CAN’T think of anything else other than that character dying! Why did she do that in chapter 12… I am so sad, I don’t know how to function without reading more of these people’s lives…” (slight exaggeration, but that’s mostly how they sound).
So I joined them in one series of books that most of them read (4 out of 5 of the girls finished in a week). Today, I would like to discuss with you the Divergent series. From what I have figured out, this is the new type of Hunger Games. Different story plot, but at the same time they have a guy who is strong, and has a secret, similar to a girl. They fall in love, and through this crazy city and world they live in, have to fight for something they don’t even understand but know is out there. I enjoyed reading these books. It was fun to read something that was simple, and not a theological textbook (after 4 years of Bible College). So, like the girls, I flew through three books in less than a week (around 1700 pages). What I found interesting was that my attachment to the characters was definitely different than theirs. They were so involved in the characters’ lives, talking about them like they were real people outside the book. As much as we want our children to love reading (it is such an awesome thing!), I feel like there is such a thing as unhealthy reads. Don’t get me wrong, if you or your children are reading the Divergent series, I also found it fun to read, and it is already a movie this summer, but my new mission is to help these girls find books that leave them wanting to live life, to enjoy what is around them, rather than living vicariously through the lives of the characters in each book they read.
When going through this book series with them, I asked myself, “What am I doing to help these girls see life beyond fictional characters? Am I finding books that they might like, that have something to do with their faith journey? Do I show them any real life fun?
I read books growing up; my favorite author was and still is Mitch Albom. But I enjoyed plays, musicals, ballets, acting, script writing… I enjoyed doing things that made me want to do more in my real life. Opposite of that, I also played volleyball, basketball, and volunteered at my church. My life was full.
So I guess my challenge for you and for me is this: What are we doing to help bring youth real life?
After reading these books, I decided that I would start finding books that my girls might want to read that I know are about real life and wanting to be free in Christ. So I lent out Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. I remember falling in love with who I am as a woman in Christ’s love when I read this. I also wanted to encourage them to read a devotional, so I brought a couple of my copies of Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, and I will hopefully be starting this 40 day journey with a few of them (I am waiting for a copy from the library, I handed all mine out).
If you have any book suggestions, I would love to hear them.