So here it is, better late than never:
I just finished Honey for a Child's Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life by Gladys Hunt and immediately bought one for my brother for his daughter's first birthday. I wish I had read it sooner.
This book is divided into two main sections. The first is 9 chapters on the importance of reading as a family and what it can look like: "a good book is a magic gateway into a wider world of wonder, beauty, delight and adventure" (p. 14). She writes that books can help children to savor life, find security, develop a compassionate heart and develop a way with words. She discusses how tv and a busy schedule are the enemy of reading and pleas "don't let your children live in spiritual poverty when abundance is available" (p.25).
She further explains what makes a good book, encourages the use of picture books, and explains what to do with reluctant readers. She even devotes a whole chapter for the subject of fantasy, a taboo for some Christians and a complete chapter for poetry!
Hunt's description of the family culture that can develop around books is an alluring one:
"Reading aloud as a family has bound us together, as sharing an adventure together always does. We do know the same people. We have gone through emotional crises together as we felt anger, sadness, fear, gladness, and tenderness in the world of the book we were reading. Something happens to us which is better experienced than described--a kind of enlarging of heart--when we encounter passages of grand language and nobility of thought" (p. 75).I appreciate that this book is written from a Christian perspective. She laments that "tragically, Christians often seem most inhibited and poverty-stricken in human expression and creativity" and encourages us that "Truth and excellence have a way of springing up all over the world, and our role as parents is to teach our children how to find and enjoy the riches of God and to reject what is mediocre and unworthy. (p. 17).
The second section is a bibliography with books every child should have the opportunity to enjoy from preschoolers to mature readers. There is also a poetry section and books that will help teens grow as Christians. Each book include a short, helpful description. As a literature teacher and mom of three I agreed heartily with the books I knew and look forward to finding these new suggestions at the library or adding them to our Amazon Wish List!
You can also check out Gladys Hunt's blog for more reading tips, like "Boys and Books" and "How to encourage preschool literacy."
I love getting book recommendations. What good books have you read lately? Leave suggestions in the comments or a link to a review from your own blog!
Any suggestions for choosing quality children's literature?