Episode 20: Learning a new language? Grab a novel! with Camilla Bates

Episode 20: Learning a new language? Grab a novel! with Camilla Bates

This week we share with you a great strategy for learning a new language: reading! If you’ve ever tried learning a new language by reading novels for fun, you may have experienced the great benefits this form of studying has. After all, if we know it is helpful for our kids learning their native language, it makes sense that free reading in a new language is a good idea.

This week we are joined by Camilla Bates, a small-town Spanish teacher (as she describes herself). She grew up in Northern Minnesota and Michigan and is now settled in rural Western Colorado, where she and her husband are raising their two boys. She has taught Spanish for more than fifteen years, has written two books and set up a website to share ideas and resources with other language teachers. 

In this episode we talk about:

Learning a new language by reading

1. How her interest in Spanish and eventually teaching it got started (slowly!). She started off taking Spanish classes herself in high school, never thinking she would stick with it. Something kept going, however, and by her third year she had discovered

2. The link between “free reading” and language learning. She learned about the important link between the two in conferences and now includes it in her classes. She wanted to give her students enjoyable things to read and wrote a four-part story with another teacher. It opened the world of writing to her and she has continued to write Spanish stories and has published two books so far, including one about a student trying to learn how to speak Spanish, which her students very much relate to!

3. While offering her students this “free reading” time to solidify the vocabulary and other things they are learning about the language, Camilla talks about the benefits of reading fiction.  “Most studies have shown that we actually learn more from reading fiction than we do from reading non-fiction, which seems counter-intuitive, but….studies have shown!” While she does include non-fiction books in her classroom collection, a great deal of it is fiction.

4. Teaching high school, Camilla is dealing with many students who do not regularly read for themselves, which poses challenges. “By the time I have them in high school, I would say 75% of my students identify as not liking reading. So when they come into my room and they are reading…- not just reading, but reading in a second language- I want it to be as comfortable an experience as possible… I don’t require them to do anything at the end of it. They literally come in, they choose a book, sit down and read.” At the end of the semester, however, she asks them something that they have learned from reading and the answers she gets are “spectacular.” 

5. Along with the “free reading” that she has her students do in every class period, Camilla also reads stories aloud to her students when teaching them new material, which helps students at every level for different reasons!

6. Camilla’s second book, Soy Carlos, was written because people always ask her how they can learn Spanish when they are not able to take a class. She always tells them to read in Spanish, but it is often difficult to find material at the right level, so she wrote a graphic novel aimed to help people learn Spanish on their own!

As a Spanish teacher, she is in a great postition to give us advice if we want to learn a second (or third or fourth, etc) language. She reminded us to start small- don’t immediately dive in and try to read Harry Potter. She gave us some great resources to get started, which we will link to below.

In “Learning a new language? Grab a novel!” we mention:

We are so grateful to Camilla  for taking the time to talk with us! More information about her, her books, and her website can be found in the following places:

Facebook

Websites:

Smalltown Spanish Teacher’s website

Stephen Krashen’s theory of second language acquisition

Books we mentioned:

Lazarillo de Tormes by Anonymous

Las Cronicas de Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis (English version pictured here)

La Tutora de Español by S. Camilla Bates

Frida Kahlo by Kristy Placido

Biography of Santana

Los sobrevivientes by Bryan Carl Kandel

Soy Carlos by S. Camilla Bates

Dog Man (series) by Dav Pilkey

Hombre Perro (series) by Dav Pilkey

Don’t miss out on Episode 19: How We Read with Lucia and JR Ratliff

Episode 19: How We Read with Lucia and JR Ratliff

Episode 19: How We Read with Lucia and JR Ratliff

Have you ever read with your spouse? Maybe listened to a book in the car together? We get lots of great ideas from Lucia and JR Ratliff on how they read together, and then Jill and Amanda talk about how it went with their husbands when they brought up the possibility of reading together.

This week we are joined by married couple Lucia and JR Ratliff. Natives of the US, they are currently experiencing life in host Amanda’s neck of the woods- the United Arab Emirates. She is a songwriter and teacher while he is a professor and they have four kids. They have been reading together since the early days of their relationship and now have years’ worth of experience and advice to share with us!

In this episode we talk about:

1. How did they get started? “Just a matter of, we only have one book, but we both want to read it, so we’ll just read it out loud!” As it went on, their voices couldn’t keep up with them, so they switched to audiobooks. They listen or read while doing other things- such as working out or playing tetris as well as in the car. Quite often it also happens when they are in bed at the end of the day, when they utilize the handy timer function on many audiobook players so as not to lose their place when they fall asleep!

2. How has reading together affected their relationship? It gives them something beyond their kids and everyday lives to joke about, relate about and talk about. “It definitely added another dimension to our relationship, because we were doing that together…”

3. How do they decide what books to read? Goodreads, recommendations from friends, Audible suggestions similar to books they have enjoyed, reading their way through the collections of authors they like. They take turns picking the books so that both of their tastes and interests are covered.

4. How and when do they talk about the books that they read together? It is usually mixed in with their everyday conversations. Their morning routines are a great time to chat about what they listen to the night before, while they are in the car or even as they are messaging each other throughout the day, when a thought occurs to them or something else they read connects to it.

5. Where are their kids during all this book listening? Sometimes the kids are around! Usually it is when they are all in the car and Lucia picks one that is appropriate for all of them (“Lucia is the audiobook CEO around here!”). They usually stick to children’s literature when they are all together, however, at times parts of the books they read as a couple stick out to them that they want to share with their kids and listen to it together.

6. Where could a couple start who have never read together? Start with what you already enjoy doing together. “I think couples already kind of know what they enjoy doing together and most things come in book form!” Taking turns is important as well, because it helps you get to know your partner in a new and different way, or gives you clues as to what is on their mind when you read what the other is into at the moment.

7. Audiobooks vs. reading out loud to each other will come down to each couple’s preference. The Ratliffs have their reasons for preferring audiobooks, but each couple will have to figure out what works best for them!

We are so grateful to Lucia and JR for taking the time to talk with us and can’t wait to dive into this list of recommendations they gave! 

In How We Read with Lucia and JR Ratliff, we mention a lot of books:


The Twilight Saga (series) by Stephanie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer (author)

Brandon Sanderson (author)

Brandon Mull (author)

Brené Brown (author)

Anne Lamott (author)

Roald Dahl autobiography (There are two books)

Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling

Beyonders (series) by Brandon Mull

The Lunar Chronicles (series) by Marissa Meyers

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Michael Kramer (narrator)

Shannon Hale (author)

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Fred Rogers Biography by Jennifer Warner

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bissel van der Kolk

The Paper Magician (series) Charlie N. Holmberg

Episode 18: Loving your Spouse and Your Sacred Text

Episode 18: Loving your Spouse and Your Sacred Text

If you’re wondering about how to better your marriage with sacred text, you’re in the right place. In preparation for Valentine’s Day, we thought we would focus a bit on the marriage relationship specifically. This is a continuation of the conversation we aired in episode 15: “Holy Script!” Sacred Text in the Home, with Dr. David Dollahite and Dr Loren Marks. We look specifically through the filter of sacred text in this episode, but much of what we discuss applies across the board for reading with your spouse.

This week we are again joined by Doctors David Dollahite and Loren Marks of the American Families of Faith Project and professors at Brigham Young University. The first part of the interview, which we published last month (Episode 15), was focused on families interacting with sacred text, while this second part focuses more on the marriage relationship specifically.

In this episode we talk about:

1. Our thoughts matter and words matter even more, as they turn into actions and, as the poet Emerson said, our character. Faith is not a magic pill. Many times it becomes a tool of power or to dominate. There is danger to faith when not applied with compassion and wisdom. It has been shown in studies many times over that religion, faith and spirituality is powerful- potentially powerfully positive, but also powerfully negative.

2. Use approaching sacred texts in a marriage as a way to honor the agency of each person involved, their time or their styles of study. Doing it to check off a box, imposing one’s approach, views or values over another’s, trying to do it when one party is not ready, or is distracted, tired or not ready to engage can be problematic.

3. We also looked outside of sacred texts and touched on the closeness that can come from couples reading other literature together. Dr. Marks and his wife would read out loud to each other as they did the dishes.

4. We touched on the role that mental health plays in marriage when it comes to faith and an individual’s readiness to participate in joint study. They referenced studies that show problems that can arise from the intersection of faith and mental illness in marriage and families, however, they also emphasized that, “Those couples that are able to draw from their faith, their sacred texts and their traditions, ways to be compassionate, understanding, flexible, long suffering, gentle, patient, etc. etc. etc., will do well. Those people who choose to try to dictate to their spouse how they should think about or how they should act in relation to their faith, those persons who insist that their spouse agree with them or toe the line that they would like toes, or change themselves to be more like I am…those marriages are going to have serious trouble.”

5. In our attempts to stay synchronized as a couple and in a place where we can both be ready to use our sacred texts in our marriage as well as our families, they mentioned a concept from marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman called the “Magic 30 Minutes.” When couples take 30 minutes of their day to talk to each other and listen. When kids are involved, it is almost impossible to talk to each other, so some couples use a cup of coffee together, or a walk or a drive together to stay on the same page.

6. As we apply our sacred texts and the examples of couples and marriages within them, to our marriage relationships, we should maintain a view inward- how does this apply to ourselves, how can this make ourselves better, as opposed to asking the other person to be better or do better.

7. Approaching scripture study as a couple as well as with our children gives us a wonderful opportunity to honor both members of the couple’s preferences and work through differences. “We have had to balance and take turns and try to honor each other’s preferences. Our children have seen us work that through. They are well aware that Mom feels strongly about this and Dad feels strongly about other things, but they have seen us try to work well together and allow both of us to have the thing that we think is most important be a part of what we do [in our family study].”

In Loving your Spouse and Sacred Text we mention:

Websites

American Families of Faith Project

Dr. John Gottman

Books

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Jane Austen (author) pictured here is Sense and Sensibility

Chronicles of Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis

Harry Potter (series) by JK Rowling

Extracts from Adam’s Diary – Mark Twain (we are including this version with Eve’s Diary as well)

Religion and Families: An Introduction by David Dollahite and Loren Marks

Be sure to listen to last week’s episode, 17: How We Read with Rachel Lambourne to hear some great ideas of how Dr. Dollahite’s daughter uses books in her home (and get a whole ton of great reading recommendations!).

Also, stay tuned for our upcoming interview with Dr. Marks’s father, Larry, author of a book called Reading is the Key, teaching us a tried-and-true method of teaching our very young kids to love reading from the beginning.

Don’t forget our competition starts soon!

World Read aloud day competition

World Read aloud day competition

We are learning just how important reading aloud is for everything from cognitive growth to emotional development. With something as all-encompassing as this activity is, Jill and Amanda are encouraging you to celebrate World Read Aloud Day on February 5, 2020. We hope you can use this opportunity to jump start some new habits, refresh some old, or feel camaraderie for the important work you’re already doing for those you love.

Please join us for a 48-hour read aloud competition blitz, and you may even win 2 books as a reward!

How to participate:

Take pictures, screenshots, or videos as proof of completion for the tasks. Upload them onto your social media channel of choice: Facebook or Instagram and tag them with #onepagepodcast AND #readaloudday if you comment on one of our social media posts, you don’t need to tag us. We will know you left it there.

1 additional bonus point awarded each time you:

Tag the author as well in any post

Tag your local library or teacher

Tag a friend

Not on social media? Send us your pictures in an email to one.page.podcast@gmail.com

Each entry will be tallied with the points assigned. There is no limit to how many times you do each task! We ask that you adhere to the honor system and stay within February 5th and 6th in your respective timezone, as this is a global competition.

We will count up the points, and the winner will get 2 free books!

The challenge:

We have grouped the tasks into 3 different, completely arbitrary categories. The points are similarly rather arbitrary.

Reading Aloud at home

1 – picture of a book you read together

1 – picture of your current read

1 – picture of you or your child’s favorite book

1 – picture of your favorite bookmark

1 – picture of your printed copy of the Everyday Reading 2020 reading log

1 – screenshot of your goodreads account

1 – picture of any books you’re donating from your home library as you weed out your collection

1 – your home bookcase or book stash

2 – picture of you making a bookmark together

2 – picture of you in the act of reading together

3 – picture or video of you or your child making a book interactive, by acting it out, doing a puppet show, using a flannel or story board, etc.

3 – video clip of you reading a book together

3 – video clip of you reading aloud with your spouse/another adult

3 – picture of reading aloud to an elderly parent or family member

Reading Aloud in public

1 – picture of listening to audiobook in the car

2 – Picture of you signing up for a community reading program, such as Reading with Dogs

3 – picture of you or a family member reading aloud to someone in the hospital

5 – Picture of you attending a readaloud at your local library

5 – Picture of reading aloud in a nursing home

5 – Picture of you doing a reading at your local school or your child’s school (classroom or library)

7 – Video of you attending a readaloud at your local library

7 – Video of you doing a reading at your local school or your child’s school (classroom or library)

7 – Video of you reading aloud in a nursing home

Spread the word

1 – Screenshot of your Audible account

2 – tag a friend in a comment on any One Page at a Time post

3 – picture of any book mentioned in our podcast in your collection

3 – Sign up for a library card

3 – Screenshot of a One Page at a Time episode downloaded onto your device

3 – Screenshot of your Libby account

5 – picture of donating a book to your library, school, or charity

5 – picture of you or your family member signing up to volunteer at your library

5 – Screenshot of an episode graphic of picture with a favorite thing you learned from that episode

5 – Screenshot of you subscribed to One Page at a Time (the podcast, or our website)

10 – print off a poster from this selection and post it in your local library or school* not an option in the UAE yet, but we will award points if your family member shares for you somewhere else!

10 – Review One Page at a Time podcast on Apple Podcast or Stitcher

More bonus points!

10 – Share any of the graphics on this page on your social media with the hashtags or a screenshot of you emailing this page before February 5th and get 10 early bird points!

We are excited to see all the fun ways you will be reading aloud for our World Read Aloud Day competition. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Episode 17: How We Read with Rachel Lambourne

Episode 17: How We Read with Rachel Lambourne

Our most requested topic? How people are reading in their homes! How We Read episodes talk about just that. If you’re looking for ideas on how to introduce books into your home or up your family’s book game, or if you’re looking for some great book recommendations, you are in the right place.

This week we chat with our next “How We Read” guest, Rachel Lambourne. Rachel is the daughter of Brigham Young University professor Dr. David Dollahite, who we recently interviewed as well. She is a mother of four children, ranging in ages from pre-teen to toddler. She’s been a voracious reader from her childhood and has passed her reading appetite onto her children. This was not accomplished without a great deal of effort and creativity on her and her husband’s part and we are thrilled to have her share all sorts of wonderful ideas and a truckload of amazing book recommendations!

Rachel Lambourne talks with us about:

1. Audiobooks! After her own books-on-tape experiences as a kid and teenager, she is a big fan of audiobooks with her own kids. They use then in the car, but also, quite brilliantly, she has used them for years as a way to get kids to have “quiet time” once they grew out of naps. 

2. “Healthy” vs “candy” books. This was a system born when Rachel was trying to explain to one of her kids all the different kinds of books that are out there. She related them to food- there are all sorts of foods that do various things for our bodies and books are sort of the same. There are books that are easy and fun, but maybe don’t do a whole lot for our minds and then there are books that challenge us or make us think. Rachel told us more about her system of having her kids to read books they maybe wouldn’t pick up on their own as a way to earn screen time.

3.  With this system, Rachel always has a supply of books that she sets aside for her kids to choose from if they want and she talks about different ways that she finds and sort of “vets” books for them as well as the experience of seeing some of her favorite books with “new” eyes as her kids read books she loved as a kid.

4. Along with reading the books, part of Rachel’s “system” is that they have to show what the books was about or what they thought about it by talking or writing about it. It has opened up great lines of communication for her and her husband with their kids, about the books, but also other part of their lives!

5. Rachel and her family lived abroad for a few years and were able to travel quite a bit. They used books for preparing their kids for different trips as well as during the actual travels. They read Peter Pan before going to see the Peter Pan statue in London, Pippi Longstocking when they visited Sweden, etc.

6. Even if you aren’t travelling, books can be a great way to get to know where you live in a new way. Rachel and her family now live in the Bay Area of California (US) and they have had a great time finding books that take place in areas around them now.

Rachel left us with a great idea of how to get started on putting these great ideas into practice this week. She invited us to join her doing a read-athon with your families this week. Get some treats and books you’re excited about and read all together!

We are so grateful to Rachel for taking the time to talk with us! We’ve got links for all the awesome books we chat about this week for you to peruse:

Books we mention:

audiobooks:

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Nate the Great (series) by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Magic Treehouse (series) by Mary Pope Osborne

Other books we mentioned:

Lloyd Alexander (author)

American Girl (one series for each girl)

Edward’s Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan

The Giver (series) by Lois Lowry

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

A Bear Called Paddington (series) by Michael Bond

Winnie the Pooh (series) by A.A. Milne

Katie Morag Delivers the Mail (series) Mairi Hedderwick

Pippi Longstocking (series) by Astrid Lindgren

Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

I survived the San Francisco Earthquake (series) by Lauren Tarshis

Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rølvaag

Dear America (series)

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

Read Aloud Revival interview with Alan Jacobs

Poppy the Pony (one in a series)

Don’t miss our last episode, Episode 16 Reading: An Enchanting Hour with Meghan Cox Gurdon

Episode 16- Reading: An Enchanting Hour with Meghan Cox Gurdon

Episode 16- Reading: An Enchanting Hour with Meghan Cox Gurdon

We had heard of some of the benefits of reading aloud to kids, but we were blown away by The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction.

This week we are joined by a writer extraordinaire- Meghan Cox Gurdon. Her writing gigs include a weekly column and children’s book reviews for the Wall Street Journal, which she has been doing for the past fifteen years, as well as her first book, The Enchanted Hour, which is all about kids and reading. She has read to her five children since the day she brought her first-born home from the hospital and now that her kids are almost all grown, she finds herself reading aloud with her husband during those hours that used to be filled with reading to their children. 

In Reading: An Enchanting Hour we talk about

1. Reading aloud is an inexpensive, yet powerful way to give children what they need to develop their little brains when they are young.

2. Scientific evidence is now showing what parents have seen in their children for years- reading aloud creates conditions for optimal brain development, social skills, impulse control and more. Meghan connected with a research team that showed her their results from MRI scans of the brains of 3-5 year olds and the results they are finding are  “everything that anecdote has suggested to us it would be.”

3. Meghan had some great thoughts about where digital books fall in the range of book vs screen-time scale. We all agreed to the many great benefits technology brings to our lives, but when it comes to reading with our kids, by using digital devices both us and our kids know that a distraction is just a finger swipe away, which can diminish the benefits of the experience for us and them.

4. One benefit of reading aloud with kids (especially those physical books) that we hadn’t talked about on our podcast yet that Meghan brought up was how it can build children’s attention spans. It allows them to “focus and concentrate and build their powers of attention.” Being able to focus on things and make sense of what is being said to them are absolutely necessary life skills that are strengthened by being read to.

5. While Megan’s book mainly focuses on young children, she is passionate about the benefits of reading to kids of all ages- and beyond! If your kids are middle schoolers and you’ve never read to them, that’s okay! Start now! Start today! Just give it a go- even if it feels odd at first. Stick with it and you will feel the magic!

6. While the benefits of reading aloud to older children and adults are different, they are still very real. There are studies that are starting to look into what it does for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, as they hear poems and stories they are familiar with. It can be a way to communicate with someone with whom communication is difficult, such as one suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, or even just a teenager with whom you are struggling to connect with.

7. Another idea to expand your reading aloud world is to read with your spouse. That idea might comfort those of us (coughJillcough) who are sad to think of the day when our kids get older and aren’t around to be read to!

Meghan left us with a great idea of how to get started on putting these great ideas into practice this week. She invited us to take the leap if we haven’t already and read out loud to someone we love- read whatever appeals to you, be it poetry or an article from the paper, but just do it! And after hearing of all the amazing benefits that come from it this week, we wholeheartedly agree with Meghan and echo her challenge.

We are so grateful to Meghan for taking the time to talk with us about the benefits of reading aloud and her book, The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction! More information about her, her book, and the amazing benefits of reading aloud to one another can be found in the following places:

In this episode we mention

Instagram:

@meghancoxgurdon

Websites:

Meghan Cox Gurdon

Meghan on Wall Street Journal

Books:

The Enchanted Hour – Meghan Cox Gurdon

Ash Road – Ivan Southall

Don’t miss our previous episode, Episode 15: “Holy Script!” Sacred Text in the Home

Why Read? -Dr. Loren Marks

Why Read? -Dr. Loren Marks

This is the first of our sub series of episodes that will focus on the question, “Why should you read?” Shorter than our regular interviews, these episodes are intended to be easy to digest, easy to share, and most of all, inspiring.

Dr. Loren Marks of the American Families of Faith project and professor at Brigham Young University tells us how much impact reading with your child – particularly in ages 0-6 – can have.

This is an excerpt from a full-length episode, 15: “Holy Script!” Sacred Text in the Home with Dr. David Dollahite and Dr. Loren Marks.

Honoring your personal sacred text

Honoring your personal sacred text

Have you ever written down your spiritual beliefs and shared it with those close to you? Dr. David Dollahite and Jill Berrett Given relate their experiences with honoring personal sacred texts, both from the author’s perspective and from the receiving side.

Jill here! As you might be able to tell from the length of our episode with Drs. David Dollahite and Loren Marks, we had a fabulous conversation with them that we just did not want to stop. For the sake of our listeners’ ears, however, we had to edit it down a touch, losing some of the wisdom they shared with us. One story, shared by Dr. Dollahite and transcribed below, really resonated with me, however. 

David C Dollahite

“One of the things I did a few years ago was to write down my own spiritual experiences, my own spiritual journey from being a non religious teenager to a conversion experience and reading a sacred text and coming to God and becoming a religious person and then what that meant to me; the changes that meant to my life. So, I wrote this up and it happened to be published in a book called God’s Tender Mercies… I was very fortunate to be able to do an audiobook version of this book… that my daughter and son-in-law got… My grandkids used to listen to that audiobook for their bedtime stories- they requested it because it was their grandfather talking about his own childhood and his own spiritual and religious changes and experiences. For months they listened to that…and I can’t tell you the joy of hearing my grandkids bring up in various settings an experience that I had while reading sacred text. Many of those experiences that I shared in that book are spiritual experiences that had something to do with reading sacred text. To hear them…tell back to me these experiences that I had- they would share similar ideas or they would ask about that, would like me to tell that story again or tell more about that or more details about that… 

I think, in addition to reading sacred texts with your children, if you can write your own sacred texts, so to speak- that is, to write, or to audio-record if you don’t like to write, those meaningful religious and spiritual experiences that you have had and then find a way to share those with your children and, down the road, grandchildren, I think there is potential blessing and joy in that… Reading what people hundreds or thousands of years ago in another culture experienced in terms of their own religious experiences- that’s a deeply important thing to do. I believe that helping your children and grandchildren to know that you yourself have had those kinds of interactions with God…that you’ve sort of been to the mountaintop, so to speak, that you have received answers to your prayers, that you have had challenges in your life that were helped by reading sacred text or by prayer, and if you have had experiences, as anyone who is living a religious life will have- times when they feel God’s presence or God’s guidance or comfort or forgiveness or whatever- if those can be written down and then shared in whatever way makes sense with family members, [then] I believe that that can be a real blessing.”

Jill Berrett Given

Shortly after I married my husband, his father sent him and all his siblings a letter. In it, he shared with them the experiences that he and his wife, my husband’s mother, had gone through shortly after they themselves had been married that led them to the church that they now belong to and the peace and joy that it has brought to them and the family that they subsequently raised.

I was fascinated by this letter, as I come from a family who has been members of the same church going back for generation after generation after generation. I have read the stories of my ancestors having those types of spiritual experiences, but it had all happened so long ago that it was simply a nice story. This one had happened to people who, had they made different choices during that time, would have changed my own life. I never would have met and married my husband had they not had those spiritual experiences. I would not have the children I have. I would not have the life I have. 

We read that letter every so often in our home, both just between my husband and I as well as with our children. I hadn’t thought about it in these terms until hearing Dr. Dollahite talk about it, but it truly has become sacred text to us. I probably wasn’t even foremost in my father-in-law’s mind when he wrote his experiences down, as I was so newly married into their family, but his words have had a great impact on my life and so will yours on people you may not even realize if you simply write them down. Words are powerful and important, as we hope to tell the word with our podcast, and sacred words can be some of the most powerful ones out there.

15: "Holy Script!" Sacred Text in the Home with Dr David Dollahite and Dr Loren Marks

15: "Holy Script!" Sacred Text in the Home with Dr David Dollahite and Dr Loren Marks

To talk about sacred text in our home, this week we are joined by Drs. David Dollahite and Loren Marks, two professors at the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University. They have worked for years on a research project called American Families of Faith, which has given them a great deal of insight into the lives of families who are active in all different kinds of faiths and how these families have used reading sacred texts in their family life, which is what chatted with them about.

In “Holy Script!” Sacred text in the home we talk about:

1. What the American Families of Faith Project does and some of what their research has shown them.

2. What exactly are sacred texts? Each religion considers differently, but in general, for Muslims it is the Koran and the deeds and writings of the prophet Muhammad, for Jewish people it is the Torah and Talmud, Christians have the Old and New Testament, etc.

3. Developmental psychologists pretty much agree that ages 0-6 are the most developmentally for children. Keeping that in mind, may times we underestimate our young children and with some guidance, enthusiasm explanation and perhaps most importantly, some stories and narrative, these kids are capable of gaining surprising depth in their understanding of faith. Reading these religious texts with our kids, whether it is the actual texts or more kid-friendly versions, adds another level to the bonding and development that already occurs when we read other stories with our children. 

4. What about our kids who are older than six? Even if those early years are the building of children’s developmental foundations, the doctors have found in their research that there is “explosive building” on that foundation in the ensuing years, even into early adulthood. This is the time that children will start to ask questions and our dialogue with them becomes rich and interactive. We also need to remember that our traditions and ways of going about things like reading sacred text in the home with our children will change and evolve as our children grow. We may continue to do it through the years, but exactly how it is done will look different year to year. 

5. Based on their own experience as well as their research, they have found that these studies work best when there is an open dialogue between children and their parents. Both parents and youth enjoyed conversations about religious things more when they were initiated by the youth, when parents found ways to relate the conversation to the youth rather than abstract theology, when the parents kept their parts brief and more. They give us plenty of great ideas for this type of reading with our older kids!

6. Reading religious texts is something that can benefit from taking the time to personally prepare for those times we do it as a family, but, recognizing that the phase of actively raising children is a time- and energy-consuming one, do not discount the study and preparation you have done in this area leading up to this time of your life.

7. Families with interfaith relationships may need to go about things differently, but to successfully include religious texts in your family’s habits, the different members must learn to respect the views and beliefs that each other hold. This also is a huge part of what goes into adult children’s decisions to stay with their family’s faith or not- the relationships and respect of the family they grew up in.

Drs. Dollahite and Marks left us with a couple of great ideas of how to get started on putting their insights into practice this week with sacred text in the home. Dr. Dollahite invited us to prayerfully consider the way that we are engaging in sacred texts personally and in our marriage and parenting, and ask if what they are doing is enough and be open to the possibility that perhaps there might be an adjustment might be worth trying. Dr. Marks invited us to be gracious and patient with ourselves and our efforts in this area and to remember that even when we fail, which will be more often than we want, the successes will be worth it.

In this episode we mention:

We are so grateful to Dr. Dollahite and Dr. Marks for taking the time to talk with us! More information about them and the American Families of Faith Project can be found in the following places:

Websites:

American Families of Faith Project

BYU School of Family Life

Books

Religion and Families: An Introduction by Loren D Marks and David C Dollahite

The Quran (Pictured here is a book of selections)

The Torah

The Talmud

The Holy Bible

The Book of Mormon

Additional Articles and Research:

Strengths in Diverse Families of Faith – Provides an overview of many topics discussed in our conversation

How Religion Promotes Positive Parent-Youth Relationships and Youth Spiritual Development:

Dollahite, D. C., & Marks, L. D. (2019). Positive youth religious and spiritual development: What we have learned from religious families. Religions10, 548. doi:10.3390/rel10100548

Dollahite, D. C., Marks, L. D., Babcock, K. P., Barrow, B. H., & Rose, A. H. (2019). Beyond religious rigidities: Religious firmness and religious flexibility as complementary loyalties in faith transmissionReligions, 10, 111; doi:10.3390/rel10020111

Dollahite, D. C., Marks, L. D., Kear, T. M., Lewis, B. M., & Stokes, M. L. (2018). Beyond the bucket list: Identity-centered religious calling, being, and action among parentsPsychology of Religion and Spirituality10, 44-54. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rel0000130

Dollahite, D. C., & Thatcher, J. Y. (2008). Talking about religion: How religious youth and parents discuss their faithJournal of Adolescent Research23, 611-641. doi:10.1177/0743558408322141

Layton, E., Hardy, S. A., & Dollahite, D. C. (2012). Religious exploration among highly religious American adolescentsIdentity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 12, 157–184. doi:10.1080/15283488.2012.668728

Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation:

Dollahite, D. C., Marks, L. D., & Barrow, B. H. (2019). Exploring relational reconciliation processes in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim familiesFamily Relations, 68, 517-533. doi:10.111/fare.12371

Lambert N. M., & Dollahite, D. C. (2006). How religiosity helps couples prevent, resolve, and overcome marital conflictFamily Relations, 55, 439-449. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2006.00413.x

Don’t miss our previous episode, Interactive Journaling in the New Year with author Paula Spencer Scott

Episode 14: Interactive Journaling in the New Year with Paula Spencer Scott

Episode 14: Interactive Journaling in the New Year with Paula Spencer Scott

Are you an interactive journal fan? Unfamiliar with them? We talk with author Paula Spencer Scott about how a love of writing can help foster a love of reading and how to use interactive journals to strengthen our bonds with our children in interactive journaling in the new year with Paula Spencer Scott.

This week we are joined by Paula Spencer Scott, author and co-author of more than a dozen books. Her work includes Surviving Alzheimer’s and The Happiest Toddler on the Block and four different interactive journals. One of her journals, Like Mother, Like Daughter: A Discovery Journal for the Two of Us was a joint project with her own daughter, Page Spencer. She put all this knowledge and experience to work raising her and her husband’s six children and we are so glad she joined us to chat about all of this!

In this episode we talk about:

1. “Writing is a skill deeply fused with reading.” The two skills go hand-in-hand, but we often overlook the writing part of the equation at home with our families.

2. Interactive journals are a great way to start incorporating writing time into your family time. These journals provide you with prompts to get you started and some, like two of the ones Paula has written, are designed for two people to write together. We talk about the bonding experience of reading together, but these journals can create a bonding experience through writing!

3. Paula has seen many benefits come from keeping a journal in her and her kids’ lives.

  1. Anything you do longhand is great for fine motor skills practice.
  2.  Journaling helps kids become closer observers of what is going on around them
  3. It creates a time capsule where you can go back and remember what happens in their lives and how they change.
  4. Emotional benefits- it is a safe place to vent, use their imaginations, set goals, work through how life works and social systems.

4. Another great idea Paula gave us is to do vacation journals. She would give her kids blank books for trips they took for them to write their stories and create a momento. This adds a whole new level of using books when you travel!

5. Paula reminds us that journals should be fun! Have special colored markers or a book they pick out themselves. Don’t correct their grammar or spelling- the important thing is that they are just doing it!

6. Along with keeping journals, Paula had some other great ideas to write more at home with our kids. She suggested letting our kids see us use our skills and write things down, even when we could do the task using a device. Have a dedicated writing space with fun pencils, colored paper, dry erase boards or chalkboards. Using sidewalk chalk to write. Have your kids write thank you notes or birthday cards. Her kids loved creating and writing scavenger hunts for each other. 

Paula left us with a great idea of how to get started on putting these great ideas into practice this week. She invited us to pick a fun book together with your child, whether it’s an interactive journal or just a blank notebook, get a couple of fun pens and start with a question to them. Once they write their answer, have them write a question for you to answer. For younger kids, ask them the questions and write their answers and responding questions for them.

Interactive Journaling in the New Year

We are so grateful to Paula for taking the time to talk with us! More information about her, her books and her journals can be found in the following places:

Websites:

Paula Spencer Scott’s website

You can find Paula’s interactive journals along with others at her publisher’s website, Peter Pauper Press.

Books we mentioned:

The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About The Mind by Alison Gopnik

The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love and the Meaning of Life by Alison Gopnik

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser

If you have a goal to journal more this year or help your child love reading or to bond with him/her, we hope you give interactive journals a try!