If you walk into a library or a book store and take a look around at all the rows and rows filled with books, you will realize that there is a nearly endless supply of reading material. You can find books on pretty much any topic you can imagine. But in the midst of all these books, there are a lot of books that are not worth reading.
Why is it necessary that we have good reading material? Why does it matter what we read? I’ll give you several reasons. These reasons could also be used as a guide in choosing what you read.
1. What we read should be in agreement with God’s Word.
Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
If this is the checklist of what we should think about, then our reading material should also be measured by this checklist. We need to be careful that we are not filling our minds with things that do not line up with what the Bible says. Even many books classified as Christian books do not teach things that are in agreement with the Bible. God’s Word should be our ultimate source of good reading material. It should be the ruler that our other books must measure up to.
2. What we read should be edifying.
Our reading choices should be profitable and beneficial to us. This doesn’t mean that we can never read a story for fun, but what we do read should be wholesome and uplifting. I’ve read some books that didn’t meet that requirement and found that after awhile I got tired of reading books that didn’t really have any purpose or any lesson to teach.
Some children’s books are pure silliness. And at a child’s most formative years, what they read should be teaching them important lessons about life. That doesn’t mean it needs to be deep and can’t be interesting. Even in the simplest stories you can find valuable lessons about things like obedience, honesty, and kindness.
I’ve been revisiting some of the Little Golden Books, making activity accompany books like The Poky Little Puppy and The Jolly Barnyard, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the good things taught in the simple little stories.
3. What we read should be accurate and up-to-date.
Have you ever read something and thought it was true, then found out later on it was not true? One of the main times this comes to mind for me was with a series of books known as Childhood of Famous Americans. These were some of my favorite books when I was little. And it wasn’t until years later that I learned the stories were not necessarily true. It would not have been such a disappointment if I had not thought they were true.
That is why if we are reading something that we think is non-fiction, we need to check the sources to be sure it is really true. When we are reading things like history and science, we want our books to be true and accurate.
With science, new discoveries are often being made, and scientific books are being updated. New history is always being made, so that in just a few years a history book is incomplete. We need to make sure these types of books are up-to-date when we read them. That way we can have all the information available.
4. What we read should be suitable for our age level.
This is especially important for children, since there are so many books that would be disturbing if they read them before they were mature enough to understand them. There are some books that are completely fine to read and meet the first and second requirements, but are not at a good level for children to read. It might be too difficult for them to understand, or it might be too scary or intense for them.
That is why parents, teachers, and other adults choosing good reading material for children should use discretion when doing so. By being careful and reading the books ahead of time, this will give children a better reading experience, as they read books that are completely suitable for them.
5. What we read should be understandable.
In a way this goes along with the last requirement. If something is above our age level or reading level, it will probably be difficult for us to understand. When a book has too many big words and difficult concepts, it can be very difficult to follow.
It hasn’t been quite a year since I graduated from Bible College, and I can still remember some of the textbooks I had to read that were so hard to understand. They were not written in normal, everyday English. I know the big terms were necessary, but that didn’t make it any easier to understand.
When we are really reading to learn and are able to choose our own reading material, we should choose things that we can understand without too much difficulty. The better we understand what we read, the better we will remember and learn from it.
Are there any other requirements that you have for good reading material? Let me know in the comments! And check out my blogpost with websites where you can get good reading material that meets this criteria.