Let’s Talk About Freedom

So, maybe you’re wondering why we decided to start these book reviews. It really boils down to freedom. The freedom we have to choose what our kids are filling their mind with, and the freedom to use it to teach and train rather than just entertain or “practice reading.” Our freedom trail started the evening of New Year’s Eve, 2011. Our family gathered together to watch a movie based on a series of books our oldest son, Liam (8 years old at the time), had been reading. I hate to tell you the name of the movie, but suffice it to say that it was popular, and I had heard nothing bad about the series of books. The movie, sprinkled with a fair amount of sexual innuendo, narrated the story of a likeable boy who learns through the movie that he cannot trust his parents, that friends can betray you, and that he alone can save the world. Just what every parent hopes their eight year old will hold as true and believe, right?

Stella's 1st birthday

As I’m sure you can imagine, it was a quite shock for David and I to see what we had been allowing to fill our eight year old’s mind! We then could see how certain behaviors we had been observing made sense. If he believed that parents cannot be trusted, then of course he will begin questioning every rule. If he believes that friends can betray you, then of course he will not make an effort to get along with others. It was surprisingly obvious once we realized the root was the books he had been reading.

We immediately put Liam’s reading on hold and I began reading the series from the beginning, and I am sorry to say that particular movie was pretty consistent with the books. I had read lots of reviews of the series, but none of the reviews had hinted at any of the things I found objectional. I found book reviews suggesting what books are appropriate at certain ages, book reviews that said how entertaining the books were, and, of course the reviews on Amazon can be thorough, but those reviews were still hard to grasp what was safe or dangerous about any book. So, I started previewing books before letting Liam read them. Sounds freeing, right???

What my kids read Stack of books

Well, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I have always been a speed reader and I love stories, so it just works for our family for me to read ahead of the kids. As some friends heard what I was doing, they started asking for recommendations on books for their kids, and it just made sense to start writing all of my reviews down to help other parents.

You see, we now believe that the stories we experience as children are huge influences on what we deeply believe as adults. There are books I read over and over again as a child that still influence me today – some great influence, and some not so great. Even now, 27 years after I first read “The Chronicles of Narnia,” I probably quote something from those books several times in any given month. Those books profoundly shaped my view of God. There are also books I read as a child that reinforced my belief that I had to work hard to earn God’s favor – which is a concept I still struggle with, over 20 years since I first read those books. Those beliefs I drew from the books of my childhood led me into freedom in some areas of life, and left me stuck in lies in other areas of life.

Paul and Bronte reading

Of course, as parents, we all have different standards of what we feel is appropriate for our children, but I think we all agree that we are responsible for what our kids are learning and absorbing during these formative years. It’s not enough to say “At least they’re reading.” Ideas are powerful! There are lots of wonderful ideas in many children’s books, but as parents we all know that each child is different. What is exciting and enthralling to one child is boring and repetitive to another child. We’ve observed that some ideas may be very dangerous for one child to dwell on, but completely harmless for another child.

So, that’s why I am trying to be very thorough in my reviews. I just want to equip you, as a parent, to make an informed decision of what you want your child reading. We believe that books are a great way to train your kids in how to think about life. Books can be excellent tools to “practice” how to find wise solutions to difficult situations, but kids do not usually stumble on wise solutions without training. My discussion points should give you some tools to get that training started! Hope you are enjoying your day off celebrating the freedom of our country. Here’s to freedom in our families as well!

If you are interested in buying books we talk about, or anything else on Amazon, please click through this link! It doesn’t cost you extra, and it helps us. Thanks!

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So what do you think?

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