November 2017

What is your child reading? 

Most parents want their children to be good readers.  But do you know what your children are reading?  Does it matter?  Very often, I hear from parents and teachers alike comments like this,

“As long as they are reading, I am happy!” 

It always makes me nervous when I hear it.  I am an avid reader and in my constant search for good reading material I often encounter books that should never be read by our children.  Secularism with it’s lack of respect for all that we hold true for good family life and love is reaching our children by the means of books.  And especially in a very scary way, through children’s books.  I am often baffled by the choices presented to young kids from toddler time at library to high school required reading lists.

Recently, in our catholic school, I’m finding books that are being promoted to our children with poor content.  Examples of such books include The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Big Nate series, Junie B Jones, and Judy Blume books.  These books portray negative family values, disrespect for parents/ teachers/authority in general and provide negative formation for puberty and love.

The truth is the “As long as they are reading, I am happy!” attitude is everywhere, hence very little vigilance on books by parents and teachers.

It matters what children read 

Once the ideas presented in books reach the young minds, the information has become irrevocable. In the case of poor concepts and world views, the damage is non-removable similar to looking at pornography.   This is especially true for their formative years, age 18 and under, when their imagination and moral compass are forming.

Books should be carefully chosen to orient the children towards the greater good.  You can’t simply choose a book because it is popular or has the most reviews on amazon anymore.  Greed and selfishness are king in the secular world and many authors don’t care about wholesome values. Popular books often focus on self and an it’s all about me attitude. Disrespectful language, negative feelings and thoughts of self and siblings, and the concept of a good “lie”.

One such example of this is the popular Judy Blume books.  I’ll be adding a detailed review on Judy Blume books here.

Children are like sponges.  They absorb everything from their environment.  If we give them good books, they absorb good. If we give them poor books, they absorb that too.

Ok I get it but there is so much junk out there!  What can we do?

First, we need to be more vigilant and aware of what our children are reading at home and in school.  Whenever possible, read together with the child so you can help them ponder and reason when you encounter negative ideas in books.   If you can’t read together, try to take a few minutes to scan the books that they’re bringing home to see if the attitudes and behaviors expressed in a few different sections of the book are aligning with the values you want to instill in your child.

If the books with poor content are being read at school where you are not present, do not be afraid to talk to the teachers.  Often teachers will allow you an opt out option.  Remember, it’s our job as parents to educate our children.  We entrust our schools and teachers to part of this responsibility.  When the information being presented no longer represents our interests and intentions, we need to speak up.

Talk to children about good authors that you trust.  It matters who wrote the book.  The worldview and moral compass of the authors often comes through in the books.

If the child knows which authors to trust, it also gives them something to search in libraries instead of judging by covers.

When choosing books from library get in the habit of putting preselected books on hold rather than letting children choose any book they want from shelves.

Also make good books available within their reach.  Create your own little library on bookshelves stocked with classics and good literature.  Choose books that help their imagination with good fertile ideas.  Invest time in seeking and finding good books for the children.  Make your own booklist of good finds.  This will make it easier to share and also acquire them.

How do we go about choosing good books? 

The easiest place to start is to find booklists that are created by trusted resources.  There are books with booklists and lists posted online on blogs and homeschool websites.  Take advice from friends you trust about good reading material.  Classics offer a great starting place because it’ll be easier to find out what they contain.  The longer a book has been around, more likely to find thorough reviews and summaries online.  Another reason to stick to older books is the finding of this study on modern books at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-finds-modern-word-choices-reflect-a-more-self-centered-culture/

Below I’ll provide a few of the booklists I’ve come across:

John Senior, a noted retired professor of Comparative Literature from the University of Kansas has put out a great list of thousand books.

Christian homeschooling websites are another great resource.  Here are few that I’ve found resourceful.

Catholic bloggers

Books with booklists

Final thought

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phillipians 4:8

The mind can be likened to a garden and the time we spend thinking.  Do you want a garden full or weeds or a garden of beautiful flowers?

 

 

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