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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Reading for fun

Some may consider reading a passive pastime, but not when it's reading something by Beth Stevens. A member of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Waverly, Iowa, Stevens writes the weekly "Kids at Play" column for the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier. In the column she suggests crafts and games that recycle such household items as milk cartons, grocery bags, buttons and Styrofoam.

"I like to use things all around us and things we're used to throwing away," Stevens said. "I always hope that doing crafts from recycled materials helps children realize that having fun doesn't need to cost money.

"And, of course, recycling is a good way to be caretakers of God's world."

She also has written several books that combine family activities with educational components. Celebrate Christmas Around the World (available from amazon.com) contains Christmas activities from more than 20 countries, explains traditions and includes carols and recipes.

Her focus is on promoting family togetherness through inventive means. "It's critical that parents enjoy their time with kids," Stevens said. "Too often we lose sight of the joy because of day-to-day routines and guidance needs. When parents and children take time to share activities they both enjoy, communication occurs in a fun and nonthreatening way."

A former home economics and early childhood education instructor at an Iowa community college, Stevens has taken her own advice with her three children and as the arts and crafts director for Redeemer's vacation Bible school.

Her eight books, including a series on historical toys such as Colorful Kites, Billions of Balls and Marvelous Marbles, are classified as "hi-lo." This means the books are designed with a high-interest level to reach reluctant readers in grades two through six. Stevens hopes they will help explain some world history by using objects children know well, and that young readers might interact with their grandparents or older relatives who can tell stories about their old toys.


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