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Book Review Series: Why reading should still be important to you

So you’ve just finished reading the last chapter of your scary huge textbook, you have to collect and read a pile of research articles, and you have to find time to proof read your 15 page research paper before tomorrow. Academic reading has consumed your life? As a graduate student with year-round school, please trust me when I say ME TOO. When I get home from class at night the LAST thing on my mind is reading a nice book for my mental and emotional health. To be completely frank, I’m so sick of reading that I’ve completely lost touch with how much books used to take care of me. I always feel so conflicted when I pick up a book, thinking “if I have time to read this, that means I have time to catch up on readings for school.” I get in such a weird headspace that I end up putting the book down and doing something else, whether it’s productive or not. I feel like I’m cheating my grades if I start reading for “fun.” This continual pressure is taking away my time to care for myself and I need to make a change. Recently I’ve made a deal with myself that I am going to let books start to take care of me again.

I want to see myself in their characters, I want their stories to make me think about the world, and I want their messages to comfort and ease my soul.

Books are such a magical way to find connection with people and stories without having to leave the comfort of your own thoughts. I love books. I’ve lost touch with what they used to mean to me, and that troubles me beyond words. They are the ultimate daydream. When I want to find a little solitude and enter a new reality where my stresses don’t exist, I read a book. Books have become the enemy and I am not okay with that. I want to renew my relationships with books and let them ease my stresses and soothe my soul.

I will be reading a new book every month and writing a short review about what the book has meant to me, how the book has impacted me, and how it might impact you in some way. Books are for learning. Books are also a form of rejuvenation for your mind and soul. I will be reading the soul hugging kind and recommending some of my favorites to the folks out there like me who have taken an accidental leave of absence from books and want to find enjoyment and fulfillment in them once again. I want to let books take care of me in the way that they used to. If you find yourself making these same remarks or these same excuses, please let me validate for you that you are not the only one. If you’ve recognized your relationships with books needs some attention, I invite you to join me in this new promise of self-care.

If you find some connection between my thoughts and your own experience, let’s meet back here and start a dialogue on the books I have chosen. The first book I am going to read (actually revisit) is a classic comfort read of mine that I just recently re-read as I renewed my commitment to reading: The Giver, by Lois Lowry. I love this book. Meet me here and let me tell you why you would too.

Can You Actually Connect With Your Kids Through Video Games?

Sooooo your teens are probably playing a lot of video games. Do you feel like you don’t understand the appeal? Is your kid obsessed with some games and you don’t know how to connect? Kids find and share meaning through play, and those languages remain important even as we get older. I play a lot of video games myself, and I often times find myself playing interpreter for parents as a therapist to translate. Here are the kinds of language I notice that are used by kids to explain how they play.

Start with the outsides of things. If there’s obvious characters that your kid interacts with, ask them about why they like that character. If they start talking about their personality, how they behave, and how they relate to other characters, your kid connects with a style of “projective play”. They really love getting into stories and pretending to be a character. These games can include elements of fantasy, science fiction, and mystery. Your child might spend a lot of time thinking about people.

If your kid talks about the mechanics of the game more than the character (“They jump higher! They do more damage! They have the most powerful move in the game!!”), then your kid might also like the style of “competitive play”. This is usually a game that has a very obvious way to win or lose and usually very clear boundaries within the game. War shooters, sports games, and fighting games tend to have their own spectator audience online, so you might find your teen spending time looking up strategies and watching matches not unlike more traditional sports. Ask them if there are other people who play the game really well that they know about. Your child might really connect with a “coach” mentality in this sense, and might get stuck when switching between competitive mode and people mode.

If your kid talks about the environment (“Check out this cool castle I built!” “Here’s my house where I keep my one million pet monsters!” “My friends and I built this fortress!”), then your child might enjoy the style of “expressive play”. Your child wants you to explore what they’ve made to learn more about them or their friends group. Absolutely let them be your tour guide to their world. Ask them how they would live or move in that space (or who/what would live there).

These styles can pair well together and are not single note flavors. There’s no truly wrong way to play a game, but above all else I encourage every parent to talk to their children about what their kids are looking for in their play experience. Take note of HOW your child talks about how they feel before and after they finish a game.

What kinds of conversations do you hear happening? I’d love to hear them!

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