Catholics are not encouraged to read scripture
We're not forbidden to read it either. I'm a Catholic and we had a Bible in the house and we studied the Bible in school (I went to a Catholic school). When you come down to the basics, all that counts is the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the essential message of those is love God and love your neighbour. That's Christianity and indeed Catholicism in a nutshell.
God's character or commandments.
I can't believe you didn't learn the Ten Commandments!