Wednesday, May 20, 2015

books are great, except for when they aren't

I'm going out on a limb here and saying that now more than ever, we need to be super picky about the books we bring into our homes for our kids to read. You cannot trust the libraries and mainstream bookstores (Christian ones too) to have the best books for your readers.
Going through some books on our library's website, I saw some chapter books by an illustrator we previously had enjoyed. So I requested these to see what they were like. I brought them home from the library, two of them, apparently forming some sort of series. I put them with the rest of the library books and went on to something else.

Sometime in the next few days, my almost twelve year old was looking through the library book selection, found these two books and started reading the back of one of them. With a disappointed tone and look he said, "This one is about saving the environment," and the books went back on the shelf. I also was disappointed, but not surprised.
Now, my son loves the outdoors and is very conscious about not leaving messes, hurting insects or animals for his own entertainment. He understands and appreciates that this is God's creation given for us to enjoy and cultivate.
So to find a book that was advertising what it would be preaching to him was a turnoff. As it should be. And I know that Christian stories are often the biggest offenders.
In a lecture that Andrew Kern gave earlier this spring called How to Read A Great Book (And a Hard One) he mentioned this about stories.
"Every story is about something other than the story, because the story didn't really happen. Stories are always analogies. They are always pointing to something else."

Thinking about the stories and the ideas that they are conveying and looking for ideas that are feeding the soul that which is beautiful, true and right. That shortens the endless book lists to just a few great ones. Just a few...

1 comment:

  1. We had this exact experience with Nathalie Babbit's writing. We had read Tuck Everlasting a year or so ago and really liked it. So I bought Knee-knock rise. Thankfully it was a book I read aloud to the boys, so I was able to navigate the theme as we read. The book, I felt, was an attack on religious belief. The whole thing was cloaked, of course, with ambiguity and nuance. By the end, I felt pretty duped and I was just glad we had read it on a day when time allowed us to talk about it. Chesterton was quoted to say that in our culture, "any stick is good enough to beat Christianity with." That book was any stick.

    It was reminiscent of my terrible affair with the Scarlet Letter last summer! Is nothing sacred?

    Rant rant...

    Love your posts - K


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