"You will be the same person in five years as you are today
except for the people you meet and the books you read."
Charlie Tremendous Jones
When the discussion of reading books with children used to come up, a saying I heard quite often was "it doesn't matter what they are reading as long as they read". I was then and continue to be appalled by that statement.
Reading junk, bad social theories, bad theology, and pornography will no more make a healthy child (and adult) than eating McDonald's three meals a day will bring about a healthy body... and I do crave an occasional Big Mac!
When I was growing up, there were no boundaries to my reading and I did read just about everything I could find. Some of which stayed with me in beautiful ways while others I wish I could wash my brain of their images. I know personally it matters what we read.
I will be forever thankful for friendships made in the early years of my faith, those people who recommended those authors who would lay a strong foundation for my faith. The pastor of the Presbyterian church I attended at the time had become influenced by Francis Schaeffer, so much so that he was at L'Abri on my wedding day and my marriage was performed by our Associate Pastor.
I can't say I understood all of what Schaeffer wrote, my brain doesn't work the same way so I have to read pages two or three times before I "get it". However, I bonded immediately with Edith Schaeffer's writings, as did many (if not most) Evangelical women at the time.
I would be a different person if the books by the Schaeffers had not been recommended to me as a young Christian. Thankfully, there were excellent books by Christian women (in addition to Edith) whose writings help mold and shape me as a wife, mother, and homemaker. Women such as Elisabeth Elliot, Anne Ortlund and Emily Barnes. Later I came to enjoy the books by Elizabeth George (the Christian writer, not the novelist by the same name).
One thing I always have to remember is that these books were read by choice in a decade many women were turning to books by Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer. I chose to read the books I did because of who recommended them to me. These were the women I wanted to become like, the women who read Elisabeth and Edith and Anne and Emily.
Did I only read Christian books? Of course, not. While I decided long ago not to read defiling books, one does not have to be a Christian to teach how to live in Beauty. I don't think Alexandra Stoddard comes even close to being an Evangelical Christian (her non-decorating writings lean toward New Age thinking) but she had a great influence on the way I decorate my home.
Tasha Tudor wrote about being reincarnated and wanted to return to a past century when she died... but that didn't stop me from gleaning the good stuff she wrote about Beauty and the courage to be yourself.
Julia Child doesn't seem to have any faith at all from what I have read in her books but she taught me to be brave in the kitchen. Not to worry about making a mistake and if I did... just to call it something else.
For you see, as we become discerning in our reading, we know who are our spiritual advisers in books and those authors we want to read for non-spiritual enjoyment.
What about fiction books? My preference these days goes to the more genteel and lovely stories of Elizabeth Goudge, D. E. Stevenson, Miss Read, Jan Karon, etc. Which is amusing because my television viewing habits lean toward murder mysteries. Hmmmm... one should have a balance in their life?
With all of us, really good literature helps form the person we become. Whether we are children or adults. But remember... we need to give grace to other parents who allow books that we didn't.
I have a lot of friends whose family loved the Harry Potter books but we didn't read them. That was fine. My son and I watched Dragon Ball Z together when he was a child, which would cause some friends to shake their heads in wonder.
God knows what is best for each individual family and not being infinite ourselves... we don't. What my family deemed appropriate may be different than a friend's choice as long as neither are what I would call defiling. Let's just say you will find no books starting with "Fifty Shades..." in my library.
However, one of my favorite novels is Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Embedded in the story is her philosophy but if you know what it is, you can ignore that and appreciate her writing that is (I think) more relevant today than when it was written... as she warns against becoming too dependent on the modern world and technology. Remembering this was written long before the Internet!
Is there a type of book I will never read? Well, personally I don't read books with a lot of bad language or shall we say... lewd behavior? I also do not read books these days by atheists disguised as Bible teachers and those making an attempt to draw me away from the faith.
Not that I am concerned they could... for they can't!... but I once had a friend who attended a liberal Presbyterian seminary tell me he wished he hadn't read some of those books for he had to filter them out on his way back to the reality of faith. I'm too old for such nonsense these days.
Which brings me back to children... I am a firm believer in filtering all books kids read as young children through my standards, up until their teenage years. I still wouldn't have defiling books in the house but I prefer teenagers be challenged in areas when they live at home and can ask questions.
I gave books to my daughter (who was not homeschooled) and then provided a full course in worldview to my son (who was homeschooled), knowing full well that if they were going to a University they would need to be prepared.
I know this is a rather rambling Sunday post. I told a friend that I was having a hard time getting the words to land just right in my brain. So my friends... this is where my thoughts led me. Hopefully they make sense.
Some of the books and authors mentioned or eluded to in this blog post are:
Atlas Shrugged... here. (Read with discernment.)
Edith Schaeffer... here and here (her most famous books among many).
Anne Ortlund... here (her most famous book among many).
Emilie Barnes... here (her most famous book among many).
Elisabeth Elliot... here (a good introduction among many).
Alexandra Stoddard... here and here (I especially love her decorating books).
How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay... here (one of the books given to my daughter before college).
Starting Points... here (used with my son's homeschooling).
Disclaimer: Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.
Image: Kim Sung Book Shop