One of the things I hope you get from this post is that truly, books are not created equal. I also hope you sense the urgency to be an intentional parent in regards to what your children are reading. Books can be a powerful force for good, or a powerful force for bad.
At one time in my life I had the attitude that as long as my boys were reading, it didn’t matter what books they were reading. At least that is what I was hearing from teachers and other professionals. I remember being in the library dreading to read the books my boys were going to pick out and bring home.
The books weren’t bad in regards to swearing or teaching bad things, but they didn’t do the opposite either. They were just words on a paper that I couldn’t wait to get through. They didn’t inspire, they didn’t teach good values and the pictures were animated shots from different movies. I soon began to realize that books are not created equal.
I have been homeschooling my boys for 6 years now and if there was one thing that I would be eternally grateful for from this experience is my new found love for good books.
Jenny Phillips, who is the creator of The Good & The Beautiful Curriculum, has done extensive research on good books vs not so good books. Over the years I have come to appreciate good literature more and more. It didn’t come at first, but as I kept reading books that were deemed “high quality” my taste in books have changed.
I read a book recently that I probably would have enjoyed 6 years ago, but as I finished it I was left feeling a tad empty. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, fast paced, and entertaining book, but there is nothing quite like reading a book that leaves you feeling uplifting and enlightened.
Jenny Phillips refers to books that are fast paced and entertaining with low literary value as Roller Coaster books. I like to call these books “brain candy”. They can be delicious but the overall benefit to our body can be detrimental over time. “Brain candy” books have the same affect on our brains. However, there are some books that aren’t even “brain candy” and are simply a book deemed worthy for the trash can.
Research over the years
Jenny Phillips also did extensive research as she compared books written in 1810 vs 1950. She discovered a study done on 4th grader readers over the 140 year span. The study evaluated how many pages out of 25 pages emphasized a moral lesson. I was astonished at the results.
- 1810 – 16.01 pages out of 25 emphasized a moral lesson
- 1850 – 12.42 pages out of 25 emphasized a moral lesson
- 1890 – 4.19 pages out of 25 emphasized a moral lesson
- 1930 – 1 page out of 25 emphasized a moral lesson
- 1950 – 0.06 pages out of 25 emphasized a moral lesson
Again, this was a study done on 4th grade readers. Pretty crazy right? BOOKS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL!!
Here is list of benefits that come from reading good quality books.
Benefits of good books
- Varied & rich vocabulary
- Increased focus, concentration and memory
- Longer attention span
- Stronger analytical thinking skills
- Greater empathy for others
- Improved writing skills
- Reduced stress
- Increased knowledge of history people place cultures
- More depth of character
Reading books with a low literary and educational value brings non of the above. In fact, in this video by Jenny Phillips, and as I have checked out and read different books, many popular books attack strong families and portray negative characteristics that many of us would never allow in our children.
How do you start to become aware of the difference between good and not so good books?
#1 – Get rid of unworthy books
When at one point in my life I never dreamed I would throw away a book, I will admit that I have thrown books away. Books that I was shocked to learn what was inside the covers. Popular books that are everywhere and in many homes. I now am very cautious on the books that I buy and bring into our home.
Have discussion with your kids about the books you are reading. I have had this discussion with my boys a plethora of times. I was telling my husband a while back that it is extremely hard to be a good parent. There are so many things that you have to stay on top of, and there are many times that you may have to tell your child NO when everyone else seems to be doing it.
It is hard when your kids friends tell them about a book that is “SOOO GOOD” and that it is a “MUST READ”, and I find it contains a story line and content that is negative. It truly breaks my heart, but as I talk with my children about these books we have great discussions of why I won’t buy them.
#2 – Supply them with as many good books as you can
I may have a problem…I buy books all of the time! Probably too much…and guess what?? They are all uplifting, clean and have high literary merit. I have hundreds of books that my boys can read and share with their friends. Here are 37 picture books that never get old!
#3 – Read alouds
This is one of my FAVORITE things to do with my children. There is nothing like a good book that has my boys not wanting to stop. I love our discussions and feeling and thoughts as we read aloud. I will never forget when I looked up from reading and saw my oldest son under his blanket crying because of a tender moment in a book.
That my friend is what it is all about! Books that uplift, teach, and provider a greater depth of character is why it is so important that us as parents need to know what kinds of books our kids are reading. Start reading to them young. You can hardly imagine the benefits of this! Here are stress free tips to teach your child to read.
This is a great way to get started. She has a fabulous list of books that are fantastic. She rates them and also has a description of what each book is about. I have built a lot of my library from the books off of this list and love them! Keep reading them and you will begin to see a change in your reading preferences.
It all starts with you! Your example is one of the most powerful teachers and will greatly benefit your kids. Join us in spreading what a good book will do for each of us! This video talks about what I discussed above. It is excellent.