Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Want your young boy to read?

I raised two sons. One loved to read (and still does). The other despised time with book in hand (and still does). Can you relate? Do you wish your boys would read more? Here's some help from Eddie Jones, author and Acquisition Editor for LightHouse Publishing.

7 Ways to Get your Boy to Read Books

The Internet, smart phones, online gaming and videos have changed the reading habits of young males. Can we keep books in “their” social network? Yes, says Eddie Jones, award-winning author of Caden Chronicles. Here are seven ways you can turn a reluctant reader into a bookworm.

Select a “boy book”

Boys enjoy books about boys, so pick a story that includes a male lead with a unique skill who is overmatched but becomes the hero through conquering challenges. The book should include a specific goal (treasure), consequences for failure (death of someone or thing) and show the value of moral choice (book’s theme). Boys like action, physical confrontation and really do want to storm the castle and save the princess so books with a reluctant female partner is okay. (Think Hermione and Harry Potter.) 

Turn your boy into a super sleuth
 Once your son is into the story casually ask him to name the lead character. If he can’t, that’s okay. Suggest he pick a physical feature that will help him remember. If it’s a murder mystery, ask who dies, why and how? This gives you an opportunity to talk with your son about the consequence of violence in a non-threatening way. Create a white board with the names of suspects, possible motives and clues. Adventure and coming-of-age novels lend themselves to different questions but the idea is to get your son talking about the book.

Create a reading hut

Boys of all ages like man caves. Even if space is limited suggest your son create a special reading place. A closet can double as his hide out and a bed sheet draped over chairs makes a great tent. Your aim is to give your son a secret reading spot, a make-believe fort all his own.

Establish a reading time  

Encourage your son to pick a special reading time. Start with a half and shoot for a time of day when he is alert. Establish a page limit, a chapter, for example. He may finish early and that’s fine. Encourage him to use the extra time make note of any weapons, motives, and characters introduced in that chapter(s).

Read aloud to your child

Even older kids enjoy it when others read to them. Reading aloud can be a great way to encourage a reluctant reader. Read a chapter aloud, then allow your son to read the same passage silently. Watch for clues to see if he is struggling with words. With a highlighter, mark the word and offer to add it to his special word collection. Later when he sees the word (which you planted for him to find) and correctly identifies it as a secret word, reward him.
Collect bookmarks

Collect cool bookmarks from famous authors and use them as trading cards. Children authors love hearing from kids. This is why we write – to encourage young readers to become bookworms and maybe someday, writers! Visit a children’s author’s web site and request a bookmark. Start today! E-mail for a free autographed bookmark.

 Form a book club

Encourage your son to create his own book club. Since it’s his club, he can be president. Allow him to pick his favorite books. Suggest he write reviews (with your supervision) on Amazon and Help him brainstorm for ways he can add other boys to his book club. Offer to help the “boys only” book club plan a trip as a reward for finishing a book.

Readers are leaders - buy a boy a book and change a life.

Here's a book to try:
The Skull Creek Stakeout - a story middle-readers and adults can sink their teeth into.

The good news is, vampires aren't real. The bad news can't believe the news.

Nick Caden is a normal fourteen-year-old kid with a "supernatural" knack for finding trouble, ghosts, vampires, and all sorts of undead--or so it seems. 

After solving the ghost story murder at Deadwood Canyon, Nick lands a job as a roving reporter for The Cool Ghoul Gazette, a website on paranormal or supernatural disturbances. When the editor sends Nick to investigate a murder in Transylvania, North Carolina, the young super sleuth finds a corpse with fangs, bite marks and a stake driven through the heart. If Nick proves vampires are real, his job as an investigative journalist is set for life! But once he begins to peel back the clues surrounding the mystery of Skull Creek Nick finds his new job is not only scary and dangerous but about to suck the life out of him. 

The Caden Chronicles: Dead Man’s Hand
2013 Selah Winner for Young Adult Fiction 
2013 INSPY Award nominee in the category of Literature for Young People
2013 Moonbeam Children's Book Award nominee

About the Author
Eddie Jones is a North Carolina-based writer and Acquisition Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is a three-time winner of the Delaware Writers Conference and his Young Adult novel, The Curse of Captain LaFoote, won the 2012 Moonbeam Award in the Pre-Teen Fiction/Fantasy category and 2011 Selah Award in Young Adult fiction. Dead Man’s Hand, the first book in the Caden Chronicles mystery series, is now available from Zonderkidz. He co-writes the He Said, She Said devotions, available at

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Let freedom ring

It was the evening of July 4th. After a family dinner, Gary and I decided we had seen enough fireworks to last us a lifetime. In other words, we really didn't feel like going anywhere because we are getting old and boring. So we didn't. Well, he didn't. I went for my standard evening run.

As I crested the last hill before venturing down the now darkened, rocky driveway, I was startled to
see no less than four different spots on the skyline lit up in the night sky. The subsequent "booms" followed shortly thereafter. I stood in the middle of the deserted country road just watching and waiting for the next round. All I had to do was scan above the treetops in an 180 degree arc. It was an unexpected treat and my private way of celebrating the 4th.

That got me thinking. 1776. Independence Day. Freedom. The birth of a nation. Pretty cool stuff. This freedom allows its citizens privileges too numerous to mention despite recent infringements by a swollen and controlling government. (Yes. That is an editorial-type comment.) Still, compared to many nations around the globe, we are free because a very steep price had been paid; a price that had flowed rivers of red. Freedom is simply not possible without the shedding of bright red blood.

We take freedom for granted. We venture off at whim's notice to the store for milk, the mall for a little shopping, church on Sunday mornings, and if we're lucky, to the beach for a summer getaway. We can get up when we want and go to bed at will. We load the refrigerator shelves and then consume its contents when stomach churning can no longer be ignored. In want of fresh air? Open the door and step out. Need a change of scenery? Walk down the road.

Now think of a prisoner in jail. He doesn't have the same kind of freedom. That's why they call it jail. He can go nowhere. He eats on schedule. He wakes up when the lights go on and reclines on the paper-thin mattress they call his bunk at the appointed time. He occupies his days with books and idle chat. Every so often, he might have a visitor from the outside. But that relished brief encounter, conducted with a thick pane of glass between, simply emphasizes his lack of freedom.

Or does it? Who is more free? The visitor or the inmate? In a physical sense the answer is obvious. But let's be clear. There are plenty of us who roam around unfettered that are anything but free. So that begs the question. What is real freedom?

Remember Dr. Luke of the first century? He recounts the story (Luke chapter 4) of how Jesus went into the synagogue, unrolled a scroll and read the words of the prophet Isaiah. "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."

Then the Lord states, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Really? Prisoners set free? Blind people made to see? How can this be?

The truth. The truth is what brings freedom. The believing Jews didn't quite understand Jesus' instructions: "If you hold on to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 4:31, 32).

"But, but...we don't get it," they cried. "We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" (8:33) See? It's not that they were in a literal prison or under house arrest. The problem is they they (as are we) were prisoners to sin because sin steals freedom.

So what did Jesus say to address their puzzlement? "Jesus replied, 'Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

Ah. It looks like Jesus was teaching that true freedom comes as a result of son-ship. No son status means no freedom because sin binds, sin separates, sin holds captive. In order to be free, we must be a blood relative of Jesus Christ. Without the shedding of Christ's blood, there is no remission on sin (Romans 3:25). 

Can a walking-around citizen actually be imprisoned? Can the inmate in jail be free? Absolutely.
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Praise God. Free at last! Free at last!

A walk in the park and a pink finish line

By the time I finish most races, I've figured out at least the first paragraph of my post-race story. This was one of the few where the ...