What to read to feed your brain

By Kathy Kuhl

Reading is one of my favorite ways to feed my brain. Of course, homeschooling also feeds your mind. Studying with your children keeps you learning, which will keep your brain growing. But reading lets you explore a wider range of subjects that what you are teaching.

As I recently wrote, it can be hard to find time to read, so I gave you some tips. Today, I want to encourage you another way. Just as your body can enjoy different kinds of food, so can your mind. To encourage you to vary your reading, here are my basic “food” groups for reading:

Professional reading

I read to understand my child’s needs better. I agree with the mother who told me she sees homeschooling a child with learning challenges as her profession. For me, this professional reading is the hardest to find time for, because it takes more brain power. I need to be alert. Here are two ways I help:

  • I read for you and then I post detailed book reviews on this website, so you can understand which books are worth your precious time.
  • On my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages, I post several articles a week that may help you keep up professionally. (You don’t even have to log into Facebook to read my latest FB posts.)

Heart-healthy food

Good literature recharges my mind and heart and expands my view. It may take me a long while to find time for or finish a good book, but it’s good eating. Perhaps you can only manage a short story. Maybe you like to ponder a poem.

But be patient if your circumstances give you little time for good literature. Then it may be easier to enjoy….

Your old favorites

Like savoring favorite family meals, rereading old good books is a treat. (And these are easier to pick up after interruptions, because you know the story.)
In 2011, Jonathan Yardley wrote a great article on the pleasures and benefits of rereading, based on the book On Rereading by Dr. Patricia Meyer Spacks. She says reading and rereading for pleasure is a valuable goal. It’s nothing to apologize for. “We who love rereading love it for its surprises as well as for its stability.” We enjoy the comfort of old, well-crafted favorites, and the pleasure of noticing new things on repeated readings. 

Maybe a little junk food

Sometimes (all right, often) we are too tired to read anything deep or professional. Then I enjoy some young adult fiction and some fantasy. Sometimes I’ll pick up light fiction, perhaps that historical fiction everyone else was reading on the beach a year or two ago.

But just as I wouldn’t want to eat something poisonous, I don’t want to read anything toxic, either. For me, that means not only should I avoid gratuitous violence or sensationalism, but also that there are books that simply are not right for me now.

For example, when my father passed away, I grieved deeply. Normally, I love a good British murder mystery. But suddenly, any story with death was too painful. At the suggestion of my counselor, I turned to P.G. Wodehouse. Jeeves and Wooster made me smile.

Finally, and most importantly,

Soul food

For me, that means reading the Bible. (I know my readers won’t all share that opinion, and I respect you all, but for me, this is my lifeline.) When the kids were still at home, I used to get up before them to try to pray and chew over a few verses. I loved the peace and quiet. In the evening, I read longer passages to get the big picture. I use the ESV Bible app’s daily reading schedule, so it’s easier to find where I left off. It’s available for iOS or Android.

Yes, that’s hard to do when you’re juggling the schedule of a homeschool family, so be realistic. You might post a verse by the sink or on the bathroom mirror.

It’s also hard if you’re the one your child inherited his distractibility from. But don’t give up. Winning is all about getting back up.

I also enjoy reading books on spiritual topics that challenge my thinking. Last year I read Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung. Currently, I have been enjoying Spreading the Feast by Howard Griffith. To prepare for a retreat, I’m also reading the extraordinary book Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton.

As you see, I read several things at once. (I didn’t tell you about the other three.) What I pick up depends on how tired I am, what I’m in the mood for, or what I think I need.

I hope this whets your thirst for some good writing. Bon appétit!

Got a favorite book to share? List it below, please.


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One Comment

  1. I am an avid reader and love to find novels with a character who is a Christ figure. My favorite is Peace Like a River. Beautifully written and filled with compassion and truth. Thanks for adding this to DifferentDream.com’s Tuesday special needs link up.