Monday, February 22, 2010

A Beginning and an Explanation

People who know me tend to know two important things about me. I'm a Christian and a librarian. I was raised in a Christian family and accepted Jesus and put on Christ in baptism when I was 13. I decided I wanted to be a librarian when I was 9 years-old, started volunteering at a library as a teen, and I've been working as a professional librarian since I finished my masters in library science a few years ago. As a youth librarian, I read a lot of children's and teen books and talk to a lot of kids and parents about books. It's a great time in children's literature, there's a lot of great things happening and great authors writing. However as the moral standards of our culture changes, so also is what is acceptable in teen and children's literature changes.

I know a lot of parents, both Christian and non-Christian parents, who worry a lot about what their children are reading (and watching on TV and seeing on the internet). I am by no means a media expert, but I do know a lot about children's and teen books. As a librarian, I've seen all extremes, from parents who allow their children to read anything to parents who refuse anything but Christian literature. I believe there is a happy medium in between. The answer is not to banish all literature but Christian literature. For one thing, you'll miss a lot of great literature. Nor is it to throw your children into the lion's pit. I believe as Christians we must meet people, our friends and neighbors, the lost, where they are in the world. We can not isolate ourselves entirely from the world. Even Paul in Acts 17 showed an awareness of the culture around him when he stood up in the Areopagus and referenced their culture in the form of the altar to the "unknown God".

Often as Christians, we say that we want to be "in the world and not of the world". This is my personal contribution to this slightly. In this blog I will review books intended for children and teens. I intend to read secular literature from a Christian perspective. As a child, I was allowed to read some more challenging books under my parents' guidance. A lot of literature can be used as a teaching tool if there is an adult sitting there with the child/teen explaining why you believe differently than what is presented in the book. However there is a lot of literature out there I have trouble recommending to anyone, children or teen (or even adult for that matter) and yet it is being marketed for those audiences.

Many of my friends from church (even churches I have attended in the past) have emailed me for advice regarding literature for their children. There is so much out there that even if it is your full time job (as it is mine) it can be hard to keep up with it all. Please feel free to email me any questions, especially if you're curious about a specific book. I pray that this will be of some help to parents trying to sort out the confusing world we find ourselves in.

"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified." -John 17:15-19


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