Someone once told me, “I feel sorry for kids who read only clean books. They will be so naive and not prepared for life.” Have you ever heard that? Have you ever wondered if it is true?
I am raising my warning voice against the belief that children have to experience books with dark or unwholesome content and unclean language in order to learn to be strong and deal with the realistic problems they will face in life.
Christ was and is the ultimate teacher. He was able—through 100 percent clean and simple stories of a lost coin, a wayward son, a widow’s mite—to teach us the most profound lessons that give us more strength and the ability to face life’s challenges than any other written words could. When put in that perspective, it seems clear that strength can be gained without diving into sordid, crude, sensual, immature, graphic, or dark details and descriptions of things that are wrong.
In children’s lives, we will see the traces of the books that they read.
To help our children gain strength and learn how to deal with conflicts, we do not have to give them books that contain unwholesome things. By doing so, we actually weaken their abilities to hear God’s voice and find joy in things that are wholesome and lovely.
Pure and virtuous books don’t avoid conflict and difficult subjects. For example, Christ taught about a woman who was adulterous. That’s a pretty deep subject, but He taught in a way that is wholesome, without going into graphic or inappropriate descriptions. Good books can do that too.
If your children read only books that are pure, lovely, and virtuous, they will be prepared for the conflicts they will face in life. I know this to be true and have seen it in the lives of my own children and my friends’ children.
Rest assured, you don’t need to drag your children through hundreds of pages of unclean language and content for them to learn what is right and wrong. While all books usually contain some good messages, unclean books also inflict damage at the same time, teaching false messages, desensitizing, and adding confusion, as those tactics mix true and false messages. Unwholesome books or books that are all about self-centered fun make beautiful messages seem boring and unexciting.
Books that are pure, lovely, and virtuous will fill your children with the discernment, wisdom, light, strength, and confidence they need to face this world. Children can watch children endure trials, overcome poor habits, or stand up against evil without the book having to contain details and descriptions of evil that are offensive and desensitizing to their hearts and minds.
In children’s lives, we will see the traces of the books that they read. Because it is true that children model the behaviors and language around them, including from the books they read, we should always put before our children books of the highest and most noble quality.
Believe in what you are doing. It may take some effort and time, but choosing the best books for you and your children will be forever worth it.