"About 30 years ago, Victor and Mildred Goertzel wrote a book called Cradles of Eminence . In it they described their research of the 400 most eminent people living in this (last) century. They were looking for common factors in the childhoods of these men and women, and a major influence was the home library. They wrote: "A rule of thumb for predicting success is to know the number of books in the home..."
- from "The Child Influencers- Restoring the Lost Art of Parenting" by Dan Adams.
I began to reread snippets of this book of ours last week, as I made preparations for home-schooling- I had forgotten how profound it was when I first read it. It lists typical child influencers such as parents, reading, family-based learning, TV, peers and school, and how you can change your lifestyle in small ways, so that the first 3 on the list become or remain the major influencing factors. I highly recommend this book, not only to people considering homeschooling, but to parents who have children in the State (U.S. Public) school system as well. The book doesn't condemn any schooling choice and has some great tips for parents of public schooled children too.
I don't know when my fascination with building a home library began, but I know as a child I was drawn to books, especially old tomes and Encyclopaedias with the gold engraved writing on them. When I was single and working, I would much rather spend my dollars on an old secondhand book than a new outfit. I rejected trendy fashions for a classic dateless wardrobe with literature to match!
As I grew in Christ it became more and more important to me to choose books that had a biblical world-view, and that is also an important criteria, now that we have children. If a book doesn't leave me wanting to know and love Christ more, then to me it's a waste of time reading it.
Some people say you're better off borrowing from a lending library, than spending money on your own books, but I beg to differ, though I use libraries as well. If I've heard good reviews on a book, then if possible, I prefer to borrow it to check it out first, and then if I really love it and feel it's worthwhile, then I'll shop for a second-hand or discount new copy.
Getting back to biblical world-view, I'm quite fussy on this point, and if a book is said to be Allegorical, I expect it to be a nice clear allegory, pointing clearly to Christ and His Word. I remember as a young Christian reading the Narnia series of books and coming away quite disappointed and disturbed by them- especially the mixing of a kind of Christian imagery with Pagan mythology, and some of Lewis's theology disturbed me in what I picked up through the allegorical/similarly setting. But that's my oppinion and my husband agrees with me, so you won't find Narnia on our shelves- I expect that many people have many differing views on C.S. Lewis.
My other criteria in choosing books for our children is that the hero or heroine must not do magic or witchcraft, as children generally emulate what they see. A bad guy or a witch in the same story is not so much as an issue as this can help them discern the good from the evil, especially if they come to a bad end.
While I've kept a few Disney books from my childhood, that's not the sort of thing I wish to spend money on now- literary wise they really aren't well written. As much as our children enjoy an occasional Pooh Bear DVD, they'd much rather I'd read them the real stuff by A A Milne.
We find the cheapest places to buy books these days are op-shops (thrift stores)- as these are often supporting Christian ministries, many of these places now give away Christian books, Hymnals etc, and also School fetes and spring fairs as the schools often have a library cull prior to these. Here we sometimes pay anywhere from 20 cents to $1 for a classic!
If you'd like some ideas of where to start with classic books, try googling 1000 great books- you'll be amazed!
If you don't own any books, where do I suggest you start? - A King James Bible, The Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan, Fox's Book of Martyrs, Han's Christian Andersen Fairytales(I assess these on their individual merits- some are beautiful allegories), "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Dickens novels, Jane Austen Novels, "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte, "Little Women/ Good Wives" by Louisa May Alcott, Beatrix Potter, A A Milne, Little House Series by L I Wilder, Anne of Green Gables series L M Montgomery, Heidi by Johannah Spyri, Robinson Crusoe- does this whet your appetite?
I would never exalt any book above the Word of God- always give it priority. These others on the list, will not only improve your children's vocabulary, but will inspire them to live noble, Godly lives.
Labels: Books, my favourite things, reading