Recently, a book titled Swagger: 10 Urgent Rules for Raising Boys in an Era of Failing Schools was released. In it, the author Lisa Bloom speaks to the issues faced by today’s society in acknowledging the problems of boys in education and finding their place in the world. This actually is a subject that is not new within certain ethnic groups. In fact, it has been a topic of discussion as far back as when I was in public school.
Interestingly enough, the views and opinions expressed in this book became ever the more highlighted by a recent trip to a very prominent bookstore. As I sat in the parking lot, just a mere hundred feet or so from its entrance, I couldn’t help but be amazed by what I was witnessing. Dozens upon dozens of women were filing in and out of the store; many with children in town. Very few men of any race had entered or exited the venue while I sat and watched.
That realization brought back memories of statistics I had heard in years prior of how few books are bought, let alone read by men. It further brought back another startlingly quote that has plagued the African American Community, and apparently it has now seeped over into other ethnic domains. It says, “If you wish to hide truth from someone, put it in a book.”
As a man, I know the value in reading. Reading has been something that was cultivated in me from my earliest memories growing up. Biblically, I know the rewards of reading. One main scripture that many always gravitate to is the one that says, “we are to study to show ourselves approved.” The scripture that stuck out for me as I was both watching this scene unfold, as well as hearing the news about this book was found in the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search them out.” We are in a day and age in which a wealth of wisdom is literally at our fingertips, yet it seems as though for many men and boys, what was once something of a treasure as literature, language, and education as a whole is now becoming the sole domain of women.
Where are those who would dare be king? Where are they who would seek the adventure of finding and pursuing the treasure of artifacts and the wisdom of the ages? Yes it’s true that boys have shorter attention spans than their female counterparts. Yes it’s true that boys seldom sit for long periods of time. But we’ve all seen what has happened in recent years with the introductions of the Harry Potter and Hunger Games books.
Boys love adventure. And truth be told, men are actually larger versions of boys who in like manner, love adventure. If boys and men are to discover their inner king, then there must be a way to create in them the notion that when a book is embraced, they are as pirates in pursuit of buried treasure. A boy or man will only reach as far as what he finds of interest. Engage him at his point of interest and let nature take its course.
It’s like introducing vegetables to a child. Sometimes you have to trick him with sweetening it up or saucing it up at first to get him to try it. But eventually there will come a time when he will eat it without anything special added; and what’s more, he’ll even enjoy it.
Rise up O king, rise up. Pursue wisdom with all your might. The greatest of men know that their kingdoms were established upon the wisdom found in books. Great men don’t automatically start out as great men. Great men study great men. In other words, they read about them, follow them, model and pattern their lives after them. Whether directly or indirectly, great men are discipled by great men. If you dare be a king of any sort, find yourself in hot pursuit of reading.
QUESTION: What has reading meant in your life?