Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Is Left Behind good for children?

My ten-year-old daughter is reading the Left Behind children's series and seems to like them, but I ought to ask her more in-depth questions about the books and read one or two myself...Please tell me what you think. Have you read them? Your children?

Related to that, the following is from Marge Wood, a friend in Austin, Texas who has also written a couple pieces for Wineskins:

I work in Central Library in downtown Austin, Texas. I work in the "youth
services" area as a shelver, so I have a good idea what kids are reading these
days. What I hate are the "graphic novels." I can't even get involved in one.
But the kids love them. I tell you what else I hate: the new Jerry Jenkins
series LEFT BEHIND: THE KIDS. I read one just on general principles that I
should see what is available, since I figured the children of of adults reading
the LEFT BEHIND series would read them. I was so terrified that I barely could
read the short little book. It was horrible--full of "I tried and tried to tell
you but you would't listen and now it's too late...." I was so distressed that I
complained to all the librarians around me. I even called a friend in Oklahoma
City who writes and edits. He said, "Oh I know the guys who write those books.
You are offended because they go against your theological views....Just consider
those books to be horror books." Horror books. Imagine a series aimed at
teaching Biblical views, with horror as its genre. I kept that in my mind and
went back to work. Sure enough I found a lovely lady choosing books for her two
daughters, one a teen-ager. We visited and she took several I recommended,
including THE OUTCASTS OF 19 SCHUYLER PLACE by E.L. Konigsburg. You need to read it. I digress. Then she came to the Jenkins section where there are around
thirty of those little novels that I think should be tossed in the nearest
burning barrel. She took one. I asked mildly, "Do your daughters like these?"
She responded, "Oh yes. They love to be scared." Hmm. I had forgotten being that
age, when I also loved to be scared. She should have borrowed TURN OF THE SCREW by Henry James. Now that will scare you. Anyway it made me see the books in a new light. But I still think that is a terrible way to teach theology. What IS
good is the fact that the childrens' area is full of readers of all ages.
Parents bring their children and sit to read quietly with them. Children run,
holler, play, choose books, lie on the floor with a stack of books, come to
puppet and music shows, leave half-empty shelves. They sit and play computer
games. They borrow videos, tapes and CDs--and DVDs--of course, but mainly they
borrow books. As long as they are reading, we are happy.

Best, Marge Wood


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