In my favorite poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay, he reminds us that like the seasons of nature, life is one season melting into another, and quickly fading away. This is my attempt to document each season in my life and my family.

Kids and Books

Filed under: Kids,Quotes,Reading — Rachel at 4:36 am on Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I want to have a bit of a discussion here if anyone is game. My nine year old daughter is a voracious reader, and I want to do everything I can to encourage that. So far, we’ve not had very many issues with her or Elijah wanting to read books that I don’t want them to read.
The only instances of that have been “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books and “Big Nate”. I told them I don’t want them to read them. Not because they’re “bad” books, but because I don’t like the name-calling in them. Kids my kids’ ages are already prone to name-calling and making fun of each other, and I don’t want to reinforce that by reading books that seem to put an emphasis on calling people “morons” etc. I just don’t like rude kids. At all. So, that’s just a small thing, and I think I’m probably in the minority with it. I don’t like the “gross out” books that appeal to boys, but I wouldn’t tell Elijah he couldn’t read one if gross was the only issue. I can handle gross a lot better than rude. I would rather him read something with a little more substance, but I don’t want to put so many rules on reading that it takes the excitement out of it.
Another thing that hasn’t come up yet but that I have already made my mind up about is “Harry Potter”, “Twilight”, and other books about witchcraft, vampires, etc. I’m not into that. I don’t like it. I don’t want my kids to have a positive opinion of such things. I believe witchcraft is both real and wrong. I don’t want it glamorized for my kids. There will probably be a time when I lift that restriction and let my (older) children make their own choices about that genre of books, but it won’t be anytime soon.
So, besides rude and witchcraft, I’ve pretty much let them read whatever appeals to them. I’ve felt like those few restraints were pretty reasonable for nine and seven year olds. However, the other day, I came upon this quote by C.S. Lewis:

“I am a product […of] endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents’ interest, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not. Nothing was forbidden me. In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass.”

This quote has really got me thinking. If a man like C.S. Lewis is the product of unrestricted access to any book he cared to read…well, I wouldn’t mind one of my children being the next C.S. Lewis. At the same time, I don’t think C.S. Lewis was wading through piles of asinine children’s books in his father’s library. Also, it was his father’s library and not the public library that he mentions, so I guess that implies a sort of screening of the books. Only the books his parents were okay with made it into the home, right?

So what do you guys think? I know that my readers come from lots of different places and viewpoints. What is important to you in regards to what your children read? Is it carefully pre-screened at your house or anything goes? Are there any topics that are taboo? Is there an age you have in your mind where you will give the kids the reins in the book selection process? Please share. I really want to get lots of comments and lots of points of view.


Comment by Conda

November 23, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

I think as a responsible parent you have to be aware of what they are reading. They have to be age appropriate and they shouldn’t go against your core beliefs.

Comment by Rachel

November 24, 2011 @ 10:08 am

Comments via Facebook:

Brandon Champion:
I can’t say it any better than you: “If a man like C.S. Lewis is the product of unrestricted access to any book he cared to read…well, I wouldn’t mind one of my children being the next C.S. Lewis. At the same time, I don’t think C.S. Lewis was wading through piles of asinine children’s books in his father’s library.”

Debbie Hunsaker:
For us personally we have no restrictions on books regardless of content. I think controversial topics are great for discussion. When you talk regularly to your kids, which I’m sure you do, they have great discernment. More than we give them credit for. My kids have told me more than once that they read something that they didn’t agree with. As for Twilight, I don’t know anything about it. As for Harry Potter I’ve actually found it to be a great learning tool and I like that it portrays evil as just that…evil. In the later books they show how evil can destroy someone who choose the path of evil. Anyway, I tread lightly there because I can see both points of view, but for us, I’ve found controversial things to generate positive discussion. I’d rather them mull over these things early and often than waiting till they are out of my house.

Jennie Henderlight:
I think you have to be very careful about censoring books. I loved to read and still do. I read everything as a child. Readers digest, any classic I could get my hands on and anything my parents suggested. My dad wouldn’t let me read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe because he said it talked about witchcraft and I missed out on that whole series. I wanted to read it so I could see what he was talking about, but he wouldn’t let it anywhere near the house. I had no idea he was a Christian author until I got to college. I remember some classics having witch craft in them, my dad did’t screen those because he was to lazy to read them and they didn’t pop up on his radar. The Scarlet letter mentions it and some other great classics. What about Rumplestilkin, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella? They all have some sort of witchcraft in them. I would let my children read Harry Potter, but I would also be ready with a ton of good suggestions for them to read. Some of the books that I read were ones I was dying to ready because my mom suggested them. A Cricket in Time Square was one. I read that book like five times. My grandpa got me the Little House On the Prairie set and I read that over and over. As far as Twilight, it is not age appropriate for any of your children yet, but you might consider letting them make the choice once they get there. I know from experience, if you don’t provide experiences or at least talk to your children about those things, they won’t have any prior knowledge on which to make decisions. Food for thought, let me know what you think.

Rachel Harmon:
Jennie, I’m not talking about all mention of witchcraft. I just don’t like the idea of the hero of the story being a witch. Every book you mentioned is ok with me for my kids to read. I’m just wary of my young kids reading about witchcraft portrayed in a positive way.

Jennie Henderlight:
That’s your choice as a parent and I have no place saying its right or its wrong (as I didn’t go through the trouble of birthing but maybe as they get older you will think about letting them read it if it interests them. Good luck with the kid raising :)!!!

Rachel Harmon:
My mind is not made up. I’m still deciding which route to take. Thanks for your input.

Stephanie Miles:
For me, with YOUNG children, it’s a matter of not having the critical thinking skills to determine abstract concepts. I believe letting young children have access unrestrictedly to ANYTHING is not profitable. We haven’t reached Harry Potter or Twilight yet. …we’ll have to see. I have a feeling the next wave will come along and I’ll have something else to deal with by then. The issue I’m facing now is that my kids are totally into commercialism. At the school “library,” they only check out “I Spy” Disney princess versions or Transformer books. And THAT’s not good reading. They are only written to make a buck. So I take them to the Powell library and we play a game. They pick out a book they think looks appealing, and I pick out a book. Then we read them at home and talk about why my selection is usually better. As my oldest is now 8, he’s able to start discerning some things for himself. He even told me, “Mom I don’t think I ought to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” I was surprised to hear him say that, as it was a selection his teacher at his Christian school offered to loan him. He said, “it talks about farts and the people in it are being mean to other kids, and I just don’t think you would like it.” I said, “How do YOU feel when you read it?” He said, “like it’s not very good.” Case settled, and he’s not wanting to read it. He has exercised discernment, and I’m proud of him for listening to his nuanced conscience. (DISCLAIMER: i’M NOT saying DOAWK is bad morally. I’m just suggesting it’s just kind of base.) Every generation has its share of commercialization of books. For my age, it was the Sweet Valley High books and the Babysitter’s Club. I read a few, but I can’t tell you the story lines of any of them. Thatkind of junk is not literature, it’s just product. Strawberry Shortcake is an inspiring little character, but a great protagonist she does not make. I do my best to only present my kids with EXCELLENT books, according to their tastes. There are too many out there for us to be wasting time on drivel. I’m kind of passionate about this, as you can see. 🙂 Another disclaimer–it’s not about being CHRISTIAN, per se, but about having a good story, with defined setting, character and plot development, a climax, and resolution. I’m almost as upset with Veggie Tale books (the DVDs are fine) as I am with Star Wars novellas.

Faith Price:
You must remember that even though CS Lewis wrote some great pieces of work he was still a man. What books were in his library? Did they have smut and filth in written form during his time? So, we must see what God says. If my children only learned one thing from school it was this – Be sure every belief, philosophy and opinion is based on Scripture. 1. God never intended for us to know evil. He forbade Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of good and evil. If it is evil we must not partake of it (Harry Potter, Twilight…) 2. Col 2:8 Be ware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit… Many have been lead astray through reading things not Truth. 3. I Tim. 6:20 – 21 …Guard what was committed to your trust (your children) avoiding the profane and idle babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith…

Comment by Rachel

November 27, 2011 @ 1:08 am

Comment via Facebook:

Jennie Henderlight: Stephanie, I really like your comment and the idea of allowing them to choose, but also showing them good options so they can make informed choices. I think it is wonderful!

Comment by Cindy Ross

December 7, 2011 @ 12:08 am

I heard once in reference to child rearing that when a plant is young and tender you do need to shelter it from the storms and elements until it has deep enough roots and a strong enough stalk to not break. I have the same view on books that I do on movies. If it has foul language or filth (sexual or mindless murdering etc.) it is absolutely off limits. As for things like Harry Potter and the like I think it is important for the child to be able to separate reality from fantasy. This age would vary by child. A 9 year old could very well be able to do that, but if they are not I do think it is important to protect their minds and hearts until they are. I know this is not a blog on Harry Potter, but for example, I really like the movies and own them, but my children (6, 3, 2, 1) don’t get to watch them until they are older when I can see the maturity level in them that they will understand that it is just a movie, a work of fiction. Look at Tolkein, hobbits, dwarves, goblins, to a young child might seem scary, but his books for a slightly older crowd are incredible works of literature! So my viewpoint is that books should be somewhat censored until a certain maturity level is reached. If their roots are strong they will know if they are reading something that they probably shouldn’t be reading. Things like the book with name-calling I think could be used for discussion. Maybe you could do a book club thing and read the book together and talk about what you’ve read and what was right or wrong about it. I would never want to discourage book reading but there are some places as a parent that you do have to draw the line whether it’s filthy or opposes your faith or whatever the case may be. I do think that in that instance that the child has a right to know what kind of content is in the book and why you do not wish for them to have their young minds filled with it. Ask God for discernment and He will grant it. Good discussion, enjoyed reading all the comments!

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