While not everyone is looking for the same thing from a book, if you are conservative in your values, while still desiring a well written, engaging book, you may want to avoid these titles.
Here are some of the books we have rejected:
Hitty, Her first Hundred Years – Deadly boring, and superstitious. I was surprised about this, as I have seen it on so many recommended reading lists, from conservative sites.
Homer – The Illiad, The Odessy
I couldn’t reconcile the idea of petty, selfish, unholy gods controlling the destiny of men, when the truth is The Holy, Pure, Selfless God is in that position. These books seemed blasphemous to me and certainly not appropriate to read to my children. The same goes for the greek myths in general. I don’t feel bound to teach my children about other gods because someone says they are great literature.
What Katy Did – a popular classic that we started reading out loud. There was nothing awful in it, but we just didn’t finish it because it was so boring. This is just a personal preference, obviously lots of people liked it once.
Come Midnight Monday – David Burke
I can’t say exactly why I didn’t like it, but I didn’t finish it, didn’t give it to my children. It just wasn’t right.
The Black Tulip – Alexandre Dumas
This was grossly, grossly violent. I have let my children read “Treasure Island” in grade 3, (it is gruesome and violent in some places), I have allowed “Men of Iron” in grade 4 ( it has jousting to the death, as well as other medieval fighting) but the above mentioned book crosses all the boundaries as far as I am concerned. It is a fairly original tale, but it is gratuitous in it’s violence and contains simpering romantic scenes.
Journey from Peppermint Street – Meindert DeJong
I bought this because the author is on many reading lists. I didn’t finish this book. The elder brother, when charged with the task of looking after a younger sibling, is blatantly disobedient and reckless of his safety. When he doesn’t like his younger brother’s behavior, he gets up close to his face and screams at him (the younger brother is a baby). This is not behavior I want my children encouraged in. The book just had a nasty, selfish kind of feel to it.
The Boy and the Swan – Catherine Storr
This is a book that has won several awards. It has the unloving guardian theme, with an isolated child ( I try to avoid this) and one truly horrifying passage at the beginning that I wish I hadn’t read.
The Ordinary Princess – M.M.Kaye
This is cleverly written, and witty. It even has a nice ending and a bit of a moral to it. However, the attributes that made the princess successful and happy, were given to her by an irate fairy. Later on in the story when she is in trouble and doesn’t know what to do, this same fairy gives her the advice she needs to enable her to provide for herself, and find the prince she is to marry. It is unfortunate, because the rest of the story was good, and the main character is likable, but I do not want my children attributing such powerful influence over lives to any other power than God, especially when the power shown here was “dark”.
The Seventh Pebble – Eleanor Spence
Another children’s book award winner. It was an interesting read, but apart from bringing up the protestant V’s catholic argument, it ends with a teen pregnancy.
The Snow Goose, The Small Miracle – Paul Gallico
First story is interesting and I can see how it became so popular, but it has a slightly off feeling romantic element. It involves the battle of Dunkirk, and the main character dies. The second story is about a boy who prays to a saint to make his donkey well.
Red Badge of Courage
This is one that I am amazed to find on even the most conservative of book lists. This book was the first of it’s genre to be written, so perhaps that accounts for it. As a stand alone book, the main character starts out as a braggart, turns into a coward, then a liar, then back to braggart. It is the story of a self absorbed young man, written in the first person, who gives an account of his war experience. There has to be something better out there!
Kingfisher Feather – Elyne Mitchell
I purchased this book (now out of print) to add to our extensive collection of Elyne Mitchell’s brumby books. I gave it to my daughter without reading first, as I have read so many of this author’s books that I felt safe. The story was based on superstitions and it was not just a small part, but the entire basis for the story. I was rather sorry I had given it to my child with out reading it first.
If you have girls, I would avoid the Elizabeth Gail series from koorong, as they are about a foster child and her attempts to over come her background and often bad attitude. If you are a foster child with a bad attitude you may benefit, but a child raised in a loving home will not do well with this stuff to feed on. Also in popular Christian fiction, the Mandie mysteries are for a broad age range, some aimed at older readers, with no obvious indication on them which are aimed at little girls, and which ones get the older reader treatment.
I know this is a divisive one, but I stay well clear of Enid Blyton. Even her books that don’t contain magic/witches etc, have older children who are constantly unpleasant to younger siblings and go to great measures to exclude them. I can’t afford for that to be an attitude that catches on here.
At the risk of stating the obvious, (don’t be offended if you wouldn’t dream of giving these to your children), I had a lovely Christian woman give my daughter babysitters club books. I had never read them, and since I knew she gave them to her daughter, I assumed they would be all right. I was casually flicking through one of the books she sent over and…..blurk! They are Days of Our Lives and General Hospital all rolled into one, for littlies!
Although pre-reading books for your children is a sometimes arduous, time consuming task, it will with a certainty help your children develop a taste for wholesome literature, and avoid inflicting on them themes designed for more mature readers.
Some books, while appropriate for older readers, may not be suitable for your family just yet. In this case, I use a sticky note or write in light pencil in the front of the book, the age I think it will suit and any concerns about content, and put it away for later.