Feature Article Reading is Key by Marlin Detweiler

Educational Helps by Laurie Detweiler

Free Offer




April 2008



Feature Article


Reading is Key


A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at Dominion Classical Christian Academy, Atlanta. They asked me to talk on the importance of reading. In one sense it might seem silly to speak on such a topic—everyone knows the importance of reading. In another sense, we are part of a culture and society that doesn’t’ value reading nearly as much as our ancestors did.


It was not an easy topic for me to speak on either. In fact, Laurie gave me one of those looks that only a wife can give her husband when she found out the topic on which I was to speak. You know, the look that says, “You’ve got to be kidding.” She’s the real reader in our family. It’s not that I don’t read. I read a lot. I just don’t choose to do it for enjoyment with my leisure time the way many well-read folks do. I wish I enjoyed reading more. So, I got to thinking about it in preparation and learned some things I thought worth sharing here.


It seems that readers generally fall into two categories—slow and fast. Slow readers, of which I am one, are good technical readers. They comprehend details well. Reading is not a natural first choice, leisure activity for them. They find reading more tiresome. On the other hand, fast readers don’t comprehend as well. They don’t like technical reading but love to read for pleasure.


Yet, fast or slow, reading is falling on hard times, and we ought to be concerned. The National Endowment for the Arts did a study entitled, “To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence.” In it they found:

             Only 30% of 13-year-olds read for pleasure on a regular basis

             The average American between the ages of 15 and 24 spends only seven minutes a day reading and half never read for pleasure

             38% of employers find high school graduates deficient in reading comprehension

             Corporate employers spend $3.1 billion for remedial courses; state employers spend $221 million annually


In other words, fast or slow, pleasure or technical, (and yes, I’m assuming no normal person reads leases or contracts or owner’s manuals for pleasure) reading is important, necessary and not taught or inculcated as it should be. Reading is a key ingredient to life.


Consequently, we must train our children to read well and inculcate a love of reading in them. Teaching them to read well is not hard. A good phonics program is the significant ingredient. I’m partial to the Veritas Press Phonics Museum. Inculcating a love for reading isn’t much harder, but requires more of us.


I have many fond memories of visits to Douglas Wilson’s home. But one of my fondest was when, having finished dinner, his upper teenage children suggested he read to us from Patrick McManus’s book entitled They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They? McManus is known for his outdoor humor. While the details might not be exactly right, I remember a scene that included a deer that was being hunted that ended up riding a bicycle out of control down a steep mountain road. I expect the Wilsons had read the book several times. Yet, to share their family’s routine experience of reading out loud together was a real treat. Even more so was the deep belly laughter that got in Doug’s way as he tried to keep reading the scene as it developed.


I learned something that night. I learned that reading to your children was very, very important. And that’s not all. I learned that it didn’t need to stop (in fact shouldn’t stop) when the kids got a bit older.


Reading together is a bit like watching a movie or going to a sporting event together—a shared experience. Yet, it’s even better. The active role the reader plays, putting feeling into the story, is good practice for the reader and listener. When children learn to read well, with expression, they will translate that ability into being better writers and better speakers. And, of course, there is the delight of being together to simply enjoy the occasion.


My father was an accountant. He was a slow technical reader. However, I have very fond memories of similar interaction, but with numbers. For the fun of it, he taught me long multiplication and division at a very young age. I loved it, and I still love numbers.


So, is it nature or nurture that made Doug’s kids love reading and me to love math problems in a similar way? The answer is probably that it is some of both. And to the extent that we can contribute to the delight and wonder that God has given our children, we must do our part. Start the habit of reading to them when they are young. Keep it up when they are older. You’ll be amazed at the scope of the benefits.


Marlin Detweiler



Educational Helps


For many of us there are fond memories of summer reading contests, where you could win a prize for doing something that you already loved. Reading has always been a part of my life. You have heard the old adage that books are your best friends, and that was definitely the case for me. Growing up in Miami, I was at the beach quite often, and my favorite thing was sitting on the beach reading a new book for a day. Even now when we go on vacation, one of the first things that I google before going are used book shops. I will ask my poor husband to drive an hour out of the way in hopes of finding that one perfect book. Our shelves are full of those treasured finds. Recently, a good friend of mine was looking for books to interest one of her children. I went to the shelves and found some books that I had read as a child. They were yellowed from age, and some were no longer in print, but I was sure they would pique his interest. I dropped off my treasure, and the next week at church he ran up to me to share about Mad Scientists’ Club, and we now had a treasure to share. That’s how books are: they cause a common bond that crosses any age difference.


This summer Veritas Press is sponsoring a reading contest. It begins immediately and continues through September 15, 2008. Click here to download a reading chart to track your student’s progress. We only ask that you as parents or teachers verify what the children have read, and then after they have met their goals, complete the online entry form. Please encourage them to read good literature, not just look for a book that meets the page count criteria.


Veritas Press Reading Contest Rules

1.       Reading Quantity

a.       K – 2nd Grade: 40 Easy Readers (ex., Frog and Toad are Friends)

b.       3rd & 4th Grades: 25 books at least 125 pages (ex., The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

c.        5th & 6th Grades: 25 books at least 150 pages (ex., Treasure Island)

d.       7th – 12th Grades: 25 books at least 200 pages (ex., The Fellowship of the Ring)

2.       Entries must be submitted online by 5:00 PM EDT, September 15, 2008.

3.       The first 250 submissions in each age division will be given a $10 gift certificate.

4.       A drawing will be held from all submissions and will be announced in the October epistula. There will be three winners from the drawing.

a.       $150 First Prize

b.       $100 Second Prize

c.        $70 Third Prize


Happy reading!


Laurie Detweiler 



Free Offers


Free Shipping in April
FREE SHIPPING on all U.S. orders placed in April, 2008. When you place your order, simply ask for the April Shipping Special. Be encouraged to place orders in April, a slower month, and not wait until the busy summer months. Note, too, that price increases occur May 1. If you place your order on our web site, simply enter item number FSAPR8 on the Express Order page and click Add to Order. We will deduct the shipping amount from your order manually before we ship. 


Free Lesson Plans in the Veritas Press Scholars Program

If this program is for you, you’ll want to sign up now, because in addition to free shipping, you will be entered to win the Lesson Plans for the entire year free. As you may know this program provides the organization and scripting for executing our curriculum easily. Click here to read more about the Veritas Scholars Lesson Plans. We are giving away one entire year of plans for one student, randomly picked from every customer who orders this program in April. The winner will be contacted during the first week of May and will be refunded the cost, if already paid.





Q.  Should I push my children to read more difficult books or should they read ones that are easier for them to encourage their enjoyment? There seem to be different schools of thought on this issue.

A. It is true that people have varying opinions on this issue, and we are not trying to be political here, but would say . . . both. When children are first learning to read, you should give them lots of books that are easy for them, so that it becomes as natural to them as breathing. If you make it too hard for them, they can become discouraged and give up. At the same time, you want to help them expand their horizons, so you should read aloud with them books that will stretch their decoding skills and give them opportunities to tackle them when they seem ready.


Q. My son just turned five, but he does not seem like he is ready to start formal schooling. What should we do?

A. Let me first say that this is not abnormal. Many little boys in particular are not ready for formal schooling. Your question doesn’t indicate if you are planning to homeschool or put him in a day school, so I will answer it from both points of view. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can move at your own pace. Start off slow next year. Think of it as Pre-K, which I look at as training wheels for education. Start off by reading to him every morning. Have him sit by you and require him to sit still and listen for just ten minutes. Then you might want to do an art activity with him once a week. As the year goes on teach him his letters and numbers by playing games with him and using flash cards. You get the point. You may find that as the year progresses he is ready, and you can start kindergarten then. If you are planning to send him to a day school, I would wait a year. It never hurts, and you don’t want him to struggle for the rest of his school days just because he was five and you felt like he needed to go to school. Two of our boys had September birthdays, making them six within the first month of kindergarten. We believe their age and accompanying maturity helped them a good bit.


Please submit any questions you’d like answered here to




Online Classes

Registration for Veritas Press Scholars Online classes continues to move at a rapid pace for the 2008–2009 school year. We currently have more than twice the registrations for the coming year as this year. Imagine a class studying the War Between the States that includes students from the north and the south, or a class studying the War for Independence that includes students from America and England. It’s fascinating—exceeding our wildest dreams. Click the link above to learn more.


Veritas Press Teacher Training Conferences

By now you may have received our brochure for the teacher training conferences we are hosting. We sure hope you’ll be able to attend. The plans are to have one here in Lancaster, so you can enjoy the local flavor of things like shoo-fly pie, and one online.


Voddie Baucham, author of Family Driven Faith, will be the featured speaker at the 2008 Teacher Training Conference July 21–23 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


Our online-only teacher training conference on August 6–8 will feature Joel Belz, Douglas Wilson and Oliver North as key note speakers.


Those who choose to take advantage of one of these foundational learning opportunities will leave the conference invigorated, with clear tools, methods and plans to teach and administer a classical Christian education in their school or homeschool. We will also be offering Latin-in-a-Week, Omnibus I-In-A-Week and Omnibus II-In-A-Week July 21–25th. The teacher training conferences link above will provide helpful information for those, too.


16th Annual ACCS Conference: Recovering Truth, Goodness, and Beauty

The Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS) Conference will be held June 2628, 2008 in Austin, Texas. It is designed to provide the principles of a classical and Christian education, and practical instruction in a broad range of subjects. Plenary sessions will feature Ken Myers, Douglas Wilson, George Grant, and Matt Whitling. Practical workshops will teach the implementation of classical Christian education. Click here for more information or contact the ACCS office at (208) 882-6101.


Job Openings in Lancaster, Pa and Online

Online Teachers – Veritas Press Scholars Online has teacher openings for the 2008–2009 school year. Experienced teachers can work from home, the beach, or anywhere high-speed internet is available. Openings currently include Composition, Greek, Math, Rhetoric, and Science for secondary classes (grades 7–12) and in Bible and History in upper grammar school (grades 4–6 only). Additionally, if you are interested in teaching these or other disciplines in the future, let us know. Anticipated growth makes us want to pre-qualify good candidates now. Send resume to


First Phone – Veritas Press has an opening beginning mid-summer for what we call “First Phone.” The successful applicant will be replacing Karen. She and her husband are starting a family, with their first child due in September. Duties include customer service, answering customer emails, processing orders, and of course being the first to answer the telephone when customers call. Imagine one call from Dallas and the next from Auckland. Fun, huh? Send resume to



Visit us on the web at or call us at 1-800-922-5082.