With Christmas approaching, are you evaluating Christmas gifts for children? Perhaps you are concerned not to add to the clutter of toys in the home and also want to avoid the worldliness that is part of most of the toys. Books are a good alternative to toys since they take up little space, help a child develop reading skills, are profitable for use of a child’s time, and if the reading material is good, can even move them along in their thinking abilities and maturity.
One of the most critical and basic skills our children need is to be able to read and comprehend. They learn the nuts and bolts of reading in school, but fluidity in their reading and comprehension comes through practice. That means we want a well planned and thought out collection of books in our homes for our children to read.
We don’t, however, want to give these children appetites for reading that will cause them to spend hours upon hours of profitable teen, young adult, and adult years entertaining themselves reading books. While they are young and most of their free time is spent playing, reading is a productive alternative use of their time. But that changes, starting in the teen years, when overdone. We also don’t want to expose our children to ungodly and unwholesome material simply to give them something to read, even if it might be acceptable with other Christians.
So when our children were young, we started on a trek to find books that met our reading criteria. Thirty years ago when we wanted reading materials for our elementary-age children that didn’t conflict with our biblical principles, we struggled. It is even more difficult now. That’s one reason our oldest daughter, Sarah, began writing children’s books almost 20 years ago and now has published 14 titles. She knew what we desired in a child’s book, and she could write to those specifications. Certainly, we won’t all share those same benchmarks for a reading book, but her books have been embraced by conservative Christian families.
Sarah’s goal in her books is to provide positive role models for children and limit or eliminate negative influences. I remember reading books to my children when they were elementary age, or them reading the books on their own, only to have them learn bad attitudes, critical or destructive words, and even negative actions from what they read. That did not benefit them nor our family and wasn’t our goal for their reading time. Certainly the books we allowed them to read were filled with many good and positive words, attitudes, and actions, but our children gravitated more quickly to the negative than to the favorable.
I love hearing about families who write Sarah telling her the positive things they see in their children as a result of reading her books. We even hear of dads and moms whose lives are impacted as well.
This verse has often influenced our choice of reading material for our children and also for ourselves: “For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil” (Romans 16:19). This is a powerful directive for all areas of life, including what we read. Are you using that filter to sift the books your children read?
Investing in books at gift-giving occasions allows you to build a set of books the gift receiver can enjoy and learn from and that younger siblings can profit from as well. I know I am Sarah’s mom and have a biased viewpoint, but there are many families who agree with me about Sarah’s books. I encourage you to look at and consider one or more of Sarah’s books as a Christmas gift for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or other child you gift at Christmas and to be careful in any book you provide your child to read.