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I'm going to play in the Hundred Acre Wood," said the small boy who lived at our house.
I knew what he meant and where he was going, and so I said, "Fine. If you see Owl, be sure to ask him about Eeyore's tail." We knew about Eeyore, Pooh, Piglet, Owl, and Christopher Robin. Together we had met them in a book written by A. A. Milne, and our life would always be richer because they had become our friends. To this day I feel sorry for anyone who hasn't made their acquaintance by reading the original book.
That is what a book does. It introduces us to people and places we wouldn't ordinarily know. A good book is a magic gateway into a wider world of wonder, beauty, delight, and adventure. Books are experiences that make us grow, that add something to our inner stature.
Children and books go together in a special way. I can't imagine any pleasure greater than bringing to the uncluttered, supple mind of a child the delight of knowing the many rich things God has given us to enjoy. Parents have this wonderful privilege, and books are their keenest tools. Children don't stumble onto good books by themselves; they must be introduced to the wonder of words put together in such a way that they spin out pure joy and magic.
I had an eloquent older journalism professor at the university who frequently got carried away in trying to convince his students about the marvel of words. He would exclaim rapturously, "Oh, the beauty and mystery of words! What richness can be conveyed by those who master them!" And while we youthfully mocked him as we recounted his dramatic incantations to our friends, we ourselves coveted the mastery of words, the symbols that convey ideas. We knew that what he said was true.
Take all the words available in the human vocabulary and read them from the dictionary, and you have only a list of words. But with the creativity and imagination God has given human beings, let these words flow together in the right order and they give wings to the spirit. Every child ought to know the pleasure of words so well chosen that they awaken sensibility, great emotions, and understanding of truth. This is the magic of words--a touch of the supernatural, communication that ministers to the spirit, a true gift.
We cannot underestimate the use of words in creative thought! Proverbs says, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." The right word in the right place is a magnificent gift. Some-how a limited, poverty-stricken vocabulary works toward equally limited use of ideas and imagination. On the other hand, the provocative use of the right words, of a growing vocabulary, gives us adequate material with which to clothe our thoughts and leads to a richer world of expression. What fun it is to encourage a personal awareness of words in a child--the delight of sound, the color and variety of words available to our use. What a difference there is between a vocabulary drill and feeling the beauty of words. Books, the right kind of books, can give us the experience of words. They have power to evoke emotion, a sense of spiritual conviction, an inner expansion that fills a child to the brim so that "the years ahead will never run dry."
Listen to Barbara Cooney's description of winter in Island Boy,
"When the house had been banked with spruce boughs and the firewood cut for winter, the bitter cold came. Matthais would wake with the tip of his nose like ice. The windowpanes frosted over, and the wind whistled in the chimney. Sea smoke hung over the open water. Then the children would crowd into the steamy kitchen, learning to read and write under Ma's fierce eye."
What wonderful feelings, smells, and scenery these words give to the reader, quite apart from Cooney's sensitive pictures. The words are ordinary, but well-chosen. From stories like these children learn how to use language.
Capturing Experiences with Words
Words and experience go together. One enriches the other. I like to remember the night we stayed late after a family picnic along an isolated lake in the north woods--far past normal bedtime for children. We watched the rosy glow of the sunset color the sky on the far side of the lake and darken the silhouettes of the trees. We felt the sand shed its warmth and take on a damp coolness. And then darkness fell over our world. We sat around the campfire and listened to the night sounds. Young ears picked up things older ears hadn't heard. What we heard we tried to express in words.
Deep-voiced bullfrogs far away, anxious peepers closer by, the gentle lap of the water on the shore, the loon crying in the distance, the crackle of the wood in the fire, the sparks going upward like brief fireflies. And then, as a special gift, a whippoorwill, a shy bird usually heard only from a distance, lit in the bush just behind us and startled us with his clarity of song. Later we watched the moon rise over the trees. We felt beauty; we heard and saw it. We tried to clothe the experience with the right words, so we could remember. Well-chosen words need only be few in number, but they help store away the pleasure of the adventure.
We have awakened a small boy at midnight to marvel at the colors in the northern lights. We have stood on hillsides and described the numerous shades of springtime greens across the landscape. It's a marvelous game of awareness and words.
Posted October 28, 2011
I bought my first copy of this book about twenty years ago. I love it so much that I am now using it for baby shower gifts. It gives a great argument for reading aloud and for reading quality books.
The author then has an annotated book list that goes first by age and then by levels of vocabulary.
This book should be on everybody's shelf and used regularly.
Posted September 8, 2011
Posted March 28, 2010
Through the years, many people have suggested Honey for a Child's Heart as an excellent source material for finding good children's literature. I found it interesting to note that the fourth edition of Honey for a Child's Heart recommends or at least mentions positively the "Harry Potter" books by J. K. Rowling. I realize that believers have been somewhat divided on the "Harry Potter" books, some affirming that good can be found in them and others contending that they are not in harmony with Biblical values. I myself have read the first book and decided that it was something that I cannot recommend. Period. At all. Under any circumstances. Mrs. Hunt says, "During those months of furor I spent a good amount of time defending a kid who goes to Hogwarts School for Wizards, something I had never done before." Yet, while still maintaining a positive view of the books, she does mention Richard Abane's Harry Potter and the Bible (which opposes the series and I found quite compelling) along with Connie Neal's What's A Christian to Do with Harry Potter (which recommends the book and did not seem to be to be successful in making its case) to give the reader both sides of the issue.
And she also says, "In any event, comparing the Harry Potter books to the Narnia Chronicles by C. S. Lewis or J. R. R. Tolkien's trilogy is not helpful. The moral complexity of evil and goodness in the fantasies of Lewis and Tolkien is profoundly biblical and engages readers on a far deeper level. In that sense there is no comparison." That is where I would prefer to leave it--"no comparison"! While I have said that I cannot say that Christians who read the "Harry Potter" books have sinned, what Mrs. Hunt says in itself is enough to cause me to avoid "Harry Potter." But each family will have to decide for itself. However, while Honey for a Child's Heart does list many fine books to read, this may help to explain why our family has chosen other reading lists upon which to make our children's literature selections rather than Mrs. Hunt's-such as Family Reading Booklist: Biblical Evaluations of Wholesome Books for Your Children and Family compiled by David E. Pratte; Hand that Rocks the Cradle: 400 Classic Books for Children compiled by Nathaniel Bluedorn; and And the Winner Is.A Guide to Newbery Medal Winners from a Christian Perspective compiled by Barb Bradnes and Deb Ekstrand.
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Posted August 30, 2009
This book is an invaluable resource for parents who recognize the value of building a library for their children. If you want iron-clad rationale for that...READ THIS BOOK. Not only is it a resource for parents but it includes a wonderful book list in the back organized by age and genre so that you have help in selecting books for your children. A MUST HAVE FOR PARENTS! I give this book at every baby shower I attend. It's never too early to begin!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 10, 2005
I purchased this book in 1983 and used it for my children. Now I have got copies for my daughters to reference with my grandchildren. We never go to the library or bookstore without it. All my children are now avid readers as adults and I hope the same will be said of my grandchildren.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 4, 2003
I have homeschooled for eleven years and consider this book one of my best investments. I have ten children who are all readers, most of them avid readers. (ok, limited tv has helped that.) This book has helped me guide them towards books that not only reflect values I hope to instill in my children but are also well written. The book breaks down the lists by age and I've found the recommendations to be fairly accurate. The last copy I bought was loaned out and not returned. Even though I have only two children left at home I can see I have to purchase another copy. However, it will come in handy with my grandchildren.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 19, 2003
I checked this book out at the library not expecting much from it. But, once I started reading I could not put it down. It so impressed me that I went out and bought a copy for my home library. If you aren't a reader, you WILL be by the time you finish this book, especially if you have children in the house. I consider this one of my more valuable books despite the antiques you may find in my personal library.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 20, 2001
I checked this book out at the library and want to buy it myself. Gladys Hunt gives parents a great testimonial of how good literature can help children make wise choices. A moral dilemma woven into a great story may help our children make right choices better than constant lecturing. I especially loved chapter 7 titled 'Honey from the Rock,' which emphasizes the importance of Bible reading. Great book list at the end that will help you choose excellent literature for years to come.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2001
I checked this book out at the library, and now I'm going to buy it. While the first part of the book discusses how to identify a good book, her list of books with suggested age ranges will be very helpful in filtering through the many books at the library. I got the book mainly to help in selecting books for my children, but her brief review of many adult books has me anxious to read some books for myself as well.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 26, 2010
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Posted June 11, 2012
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