Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Our book review policy...

image courtesy Phiseksit freedigitalphotos.net
We have a review policy in our house. That means, whenever the children want to read something that we haven't read, my husband or I must review the book in question first.

Sometimes a very cursory review is acceptable. When we're in the library, it often takes nothing more than reading the back of the book or scanning a few pages to make a decision. Other times, my children can say, "So and so read this book and said it was amazing/funny/interesting..." If I know the child who recommended the book (and what their parents allow), I can often give my permission without hesitation.

Sometimes, it's a bit more tricky than that.

Recently, Precious Girl mentioned that she wanted to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Despite all of the recent media hype, I had never heard of the book or the author. (No, I don't live under a rock. I just don't really watch TV that much...)

I did a quick search on our local library's website and found (to my disappointment) that there were over 100 holds on the book. At that rate, she would be able to read it sometime before she graduates...When I mentioned the book to my husband, he said that he'd heard it's being made into a movie and that it was very popular among the middle school crowd.

To make a long story short, we ordered the trilogy with the stipulation that I would read the books first according to our "review policy." I presumed I'd find little to stop Precious Girl from reading it. I had read a review on Focus on the Family (link here). They included some very compelling discussion questions at the end of the article and I felt prepared for what I'd find in the pages.

I was wrong.

I tried to read with the eyes of my little girl, and I was stunned and disturbed at what I read.

Many people I know and respect have read the book and enjoyed it -- but they are adults. As a book marketed and targeted to children, I knew it was not for my daughter's eyes...at least not now.

You see, this post really isn't about the Hunger Games at all. Next year...next week there will be another book hot off the presses that promises to be another bestseller. But that doesn't mean my children will read it. It also doesn't necessarily mean that they won't...

But their father and I will decide. Hopefully with both prayer and wisdom we will decide what books cross the threshold of our home.

For better or for worse we help our children choose what fills their tender minds and hearts. We try to guide them to make choices that will help them learn and grow. Sometimes, they will have to read about difficult topics - but not alone. We will be there to ask questions, to provide answers, to pray. The hope is, that we are raising children who will make good choices in what to read. Choices, not dependent on what is popular, but on what is right for them.

So, for now, our review policy stands. We will not allow the world's standards of acceptability to influence our choices for our children. We will make mistakes along the way, but we will learn and grow and continue to look for
whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8 ESV

Linking Up:
Far Above Rubies
Growing Home
Time Warp Wife
Workin' It Mondays


Courtney said...

I totally agree with everything you said. Regarding HG, I really can't believe the people that are letting their 8, 10, 12 year olds read the book and even worse, watch the movie. Yes, the message is that killing is wrong, yadda yadda. But they're presenting it in such a way that it is showing this to our children graphically.

One of my homeschooling friends in another state said that her local public school is taking their middle school class to see this as a FIELD TRIP. What is happening to the educational system?!?

On a separate note, my daughter has read and enjoyed lots of books by Gail Carson Levine, and they've all been fine. At a new library we visited, she found one she hadn't read. Well, it wasn't about fairies and light, fluffy stuff, it was about teen angst. Ugh. I should've previewed it even though I had previous approved of the author.

It's so much WORK being a parent! :)

Its So Very Cheri said...

So glad to read this. We have been debating about letting out 15 year old read it. My niece is reading the third book and was telling him all about it and he was wanting it. My sister said the christian school took the kids on a field trip to go see the movie and only one child was not given consent to go.
Cheri from Its So Very Cheri

Anonymous said...

Amen! Very wonderful to see what you said about you and your husband will not let what the world dictates as appropriate determine what you guys dictate as appropriate. We need more folks to do that! I personally have not read the series and don't really plan on it, but it seems like another Harry Potter/Vampire/whatever thing that everyone is head over heels with.

va_grown said...

Thank you for this post! I often feel like (probably because I'm accused of being!) a very overprotective parent because I filter our children's books and movies very carefully--but I certainly don't intend to stop! I mean, just the fact that so many parents thought that Bella's virginity negated all the other completely inappropriate themes and illustrations in the Twilight series showed me that I can't depend on anyone else to guard their little hearts and nurture a biblical world view for me.