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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

At Least They're Reading?

Here is a very good New Yorker article, "The Defiant Ones" about the sad state of recent children's picture books. How discerning are you about the message of the picture books you're reading to your kids? In short, new picture books portray the diminished authority of parents over their children. (It also helps explain why Olivia books rub me wrong.)

And here is Albert Mohler's response to the New Yorker piece, which helps put it in Biblical perspective.

8 comments:

Kacie said...

I really appreciated Dr. Mohler's piece as well. It's often so hard to go to the library- I have to screen everything that goes in the bag. Thankfully, my boys are still young so it's easy to do. How do you handle screening books with older kids?

Kacie
www.wondrouslove.wordpress.com

Mrs. Edwards said...

Kacie,
Thanks for commenting. It was a bit of a transition for me to realize that my kids could read anything they chose--unlike the days when every picture book was read to them. It didn't take very long before I noticed that they found selections from the library that didn't meet my quality test.

I've dealt with this in a couple of ways. For one, I've asserted my veto authority plenty of times about a book they chose from the library. For the most part, this has been when they have been drawn to books that are produced to be sold more than to be read (the sorts of books produced by publishing marketing departments rather than interesting authors). While I have in my head books I steer them away from (Junie B Jones doesn't make my cut; Judy Blume books are bad as well) I have also focused more on the positive, but creating lists of books and authors they will like.

Even the "good" books are often presenting non-Biblical worldviews, of course. As they grow and mature, this is a good time to talk about the differences and train them to spot the differences and begin discerning for themselves what the message of a book is.

MOHeather said...

Thanks for the interesting reads, Amy. To answer your initial question, I try to be very discerning in regards to my children's reading material. It takes time and effort to search out good books these days. The treasures worth reading are never displayed at the library at our children's eye level are they? Instead they are tucked far away in the stacks, often still with the old-fashion check-out envelope glued to the inside cover. :)

I am working on developing a library notebook for our family. It will have sections for each child to keep track of subjects they're interested in researching when we visit our library. (Often they think of something during the week, and it's long forgotten by the time we actually get there!) It will also have book lists for the children to freely use in selecting their book choices. It also will have an anthology section for authors. I've been printing out lists of books written by favorite authors, so we can keep track of what we've read and what we still want to read.


Yes, it take much discernment and effort. But it's SO worth it! I know we are both passionate about this subject, Amy, and it's so fun to talk books with you!

Mrs. Edwards said...

Heather,
I actually remember talking with you about this issue once at camp and sharing our exasperation with the drivel that kids are served up as literature.

I love your library notebook idea!

I have to admit that I saw shades of my parenting reflected in portions of that New Yorker article and shuddered to realize how much I am a product of my generation without even knowing it. We discipline our children, of course, and I consider myself the authority figure (submitting to my husband), but some of the parenting lines he mentioned are lines I've said.

One value of studying history, of course, is that reading about historical figures, their writings, and so on helps to expose more clearly what about my thinking comes more from my age and culture than either Scripture or even my own thinking. Not to say that all that is old is good; it isn't at all and sin has poisoned all generations. But, the contrast helps me to think about myself differently.

This is especially helpful when settling on reasonable expectations of my kids. The culture around me doesn't expect much responsibility of children at all and I tend to mirror that. In contrast, however, to kids of the past (the fiction story Sign of the Beaver is a good example of this) who were expected to carry much more significant responsibilities and were arguably better prepared to be men and women at age 20 than people are today.

A bit off topic, there, but somewhat related.

Thanks for your comments!

Sharon said...

Re your last comment, Amy, we just watched the DVD of "The Yearling" and that showed exactly what you said about children shouldering responsibility. Never having read the book - I only have a vague idea that the movie must come from a book, to tell the truth - I had no idea how it would end. It led to some amazing conversations with my kids, especially Joshua, about the choices we have to make and how sometimes the right thing to do can be very difficult and painful for us.
~ Sharon
PS More comment on the topic of kids' books later, I hope, but now I need to go to bed!

dordfian said...

I just found your blog and have been enjoying your posts. I've noticed the parenting problems mentioned in the New Yorker article, but I haven't encountered the books much yet. I'll have to watch out as carefully as I do for movies and television.

I'm pregnant with #5, too, so I laughed at your People Economics post. I just found TOG, and we will be starting Year 1 in December or January - after the baby. Good luck with your nausea - this was my sickest pregnancy. I'm due in 10 days, so its almost over! I decided to look for TOG blogs and found yours and love it! I'll be back.

Mrs. Edwards said...

Dordfian-
Thanks for introducing yourself and welcome to my blog. I think you'll like Tapestry of Grace a lot; if you ever have any questions about it, feel free to ask.

Congratulations on # five. This has been my sickest too, which you may have read about on another post. I've been so blessed to have family and friends rally around and help take care of my family through my first trimester. I'll keep an eye on your blog and hope to see some baby news.
~Amy

Sharon said...

Hi Amy,

Rather than write a huge long comment here about how what we have been reading fits into this analysis of children's books, I have posted my thoughts about a picture book I have been reading to my kids lately, Tom's Clockwork Dragon. You can read the post here. I hope you enjoy it.

~ Sharon

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