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Speaking about favorite books with LJHS students

On Feb. 27 I was at Lake Junior High School participating in its annual National Reading Day event.

More than 30 guest speakers from the community came to share their love for reading and to promote literacy and numeracy.

Each of us was asked to share one of our favorite books with our assigned class. I had a sixth grade class.

My first and immediate thought about picking a favorite book was: "It's easy. It should be the Bible." Because that is the only book I have read more often than any other books. And that's true for many other people, too.

But I knew I was not asked to go to school to talk about the Bible and read from it. So I had to think about another book.

I like to read and have read quite a lot of books. It was not so easy to decide which one is my favorite.

After a little thinking, I picked Hal Urban's "Life's Greatest Lessons: 20 Things that Matter," for two reasons.

First, this is one of the very few books I had actually read twice.

I rarely read books more than once. There are just too many books to read and not enough time to read. But there is something in that book that I really liked so I checked it out twice from the library.

Second, the book was written by a high school teacher who loved teaching and kids. He wrote the book for his kids and his students and provided great life lessons in it.

The book was self-published and was awarded Best Inspirational Book of the Year 2000 by Writer's Digest Magazine. It became popular and went through several printings before it was picked by a major publisher.

The book contains the wisdom of the ages and essential life truths. The 20 lessons are great for character education. The book is not only good for kids, parents and teachers, it is good for everyone.

So the 20 lessons are worth sharing here.

1. Success is more than making money.

2. Life is hard and not always fair.

3. Life is also fun and incredibly funny.

4. We live by choice, not by chance.

5. Attitude is a choice -- the most important one you'll every make.

6. Habits are the key to all success.

7. Being thankful is a habit -- the best one you'll ever have.

8. Good people build their lives on a foundation of respect.

9. Honesty is still the best policy.

10. Kind words cost little but accomplish much.

11. Real motivation comes from within.

12. Goals are dreams with deadlines.

13. There's no substitute for hard work.

14. You have to give up something to get something.

15. Successful people don't find time -- they make time.

16. No one else can raise your self-esteem.

17. The body needs nutrition and exercise -- so do the mind and the spirit.

18. It's OK to fail - everyone else has.

19. Life is simpler when we know what's essential.

20. Essential No. 1 is being a good person.

Before I talked about this book and read from it to my sixth-grader's class, I did a quiz with the kids just for fun.

I asked them: "What book is the best-selling book on the market now?"

I got different answers: "Harry Potter," "Twilight," etc.

To give them more clues I added: "What book is the best-selling book of all time, past, present and future, and possibly in all countries and languages?

Still, I did not get the correct answer.

Then I said: "Most likely many of you have more than one copy at home for this book."

Finally, a boy answered with hesitation and a query in his voice: "The Bible?"

I knew my first question was tricky and could be misleading, but I didn't realize that the questions were hard for the sixth-graders.

I also read something I wrote and shared a poem with them.

I told the kids how fortunate they are to live in this country, to have such great school and public libraries, and to have easy access to reading materials.

They really have no reasons not to read.

The annual National Reading Day event was organized by the Student Literacy Council at LJH with the help of LJH Literacy Coach Jan Buikema. It was a great school and community event, very well organized. As a guest speaker I felt very welcomed and appreciated.

Congratulations to LJHS for a job well done.