Using Secular Children’s Books to Teach Christian Values

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I am all for having our kids read books by Christian authors about Christian character and heroes of the faith. But let’s face it. There are SO many more children’s books in the library, and probably in your own home, that come from a secular worldview.

Christian ValuesSo what should a parent do? Skip over those books and stick with only authors who profess to live for Jesus?

I say, “No,” and here’s why.

Using Secular Children’s Books to Teach Christian Values

We live in a secular world. Our children will have to deal with worldly problems. It we parents do not provide adequate training before the problems exist, then our kids will fail and fall.

Using age-appropriate books as teaching tools is a safe, and controlled, way of introducing choices which may arise in life. Books easily open discussions. And books can’t talk back and argue a point.

Let me give you an example. I recently read, Arthur’s Computer Disaster by Marc Brown, to my kids.

Arthur 1Arthur has a computer game with which he’s slightly obsessed. His mother allows him to use her computer to play, but the next day she tells him to leave her computer alone because she has to work on it. A little bit later, she is called away and the temptation begins.

Arthur2Arthur is determined to obey…at first. The desire to play becomes stronger. When Arthur’s friend comes over, he temps Arthur to play the game anyway. And of course, Arthur’s sister has a snarky comment to add into the conversation.

Arthur3Arthur caves and plays the game. Everything is going well until the computer keyboard falls and the computer breaks. Arthur then attempts to fix the computer to no avail.

Then his mom comes home. Arthur avoids her questions until the last possible moment when he cracks and finally tells the truth.

Arthur5He takes ownership of his decision and apologizes. The computer fix is simple and Arthur’s mother tells him that she is disappointed in him and that he will have a consequence for his actions. D.W. revels in this.

The kids get ready for bed and wait for the mom to come upstairs. They wait and wait until they realize that she is playing the game and is too distracted to put them to bed.


How to Use Secular Children’s Books to Teach Christian Values

The kids and I had a great discussion about the characters in this book including honesty, obedience, true friendship, and sibling love.

1. What did Arthur do right? (He told his mom the truth and accepted his consequence without arguing.)
2. What did Arthur’s friend do that was not good? (He encouraged Arthur to disobey his mom.)
3. What did D.W. do that was not good? (She blackmailed Arthur so she wouldn’t say anything to their mom. She also enjoyed seeing Arthur being punished.)
4. What did Arthur not do? (He did not obey his mom. He did not tell the truth the first chance he had to tell it.)
5. What did the mother do that was good? (She did not lose her temper with Arthur’s mistake and she gave him a consequence for his bad choice.)
6. What did the mother do that was not good? (She chose to play the game instead of putting her kids to bed.)

This can then open conversations about computer games, being good stewards of our time, family dynamics, and how family members should rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn for those who mourn.

Why Should You Use Secular Children’s Books to Teach Christian Values?

Some of you may be thinking, Oh come on! It’s a kid’s book! It’s meant to be fun!

Yes, it is. And everything in this world reflects a godly worldview or it doesn’t. Using children’s books in this manner will teach your kids to think critically about what they read.

We live in a world where, “If it’s on Facebook, then it must be true.”

We must teach our children to be as the Bereans were in the Bible when Paul preached in their town. (Acts 17:11) They were fair-minded and searched the scriptures to see if the teaching was true. They refused to take Paul’s word for it. They went to God. And therefore MANY believed. (Acts 17:12)

What other ways could this book be used to teach Christian values?


Using Secular Children’s Books to Teach Christian Values — 4 Comments

  1. I love your blog and I thank you for doing what you do 🙂 I’ve shared your blog today, as a matter of fact! But, I have to say, I don’t understand the aim of this particular post today. You used a children’s book to teach a lesson. Great! A good lesson, too! But I guess I am not understanding how did the secular (or not) nature of the book contributed (or did not contribute) to the lesson? The book, regardless of worldview, was successful in guiding your family in a way you were inclined to teach. Please shed light! And thank you for your contributions to the homeschool community!

    • Hey! Thank you so much for being a dedicated reader!! The book example I chose is secular in nature and was not written to proclaim Jesus in any way. Therefore it offers a certain worldview. Perhaps I didn’t communicate well enough, but it is important for us to show children how to think critically towards the thoughts and worldviews reflected in what we read and how they might not match a Biblical worldview. Therefore, while reading a secular book, including classical literature, we can use the presented themes and ideas to model critical thinking and see how those ideas do or do not reflect the truths in scripture. We don’t want our kids to believe everything they read. Even the Bereans in Acts didn’t take Paul’s word about the gospel until they had searched the Old Testament and saw that prophesies really had been fulfilled through Jesus. I hope that answers your question? 🙂

      • So if the story doesn’t happen to mention religion, it’s a secular book? It’s not professing a ‘secular’ worldview, it’s just telling a story that isn’t focused around religion.

        • Books that reflect biblical truths such as salvation through Jesus, righteousness, redemption, and godliness have a biblical worldview. Those that do not, are considered to be secular. There are plenty of secular stories that reflect good values, but that does not make them biblical. Being “religious” does not equal being “biblical”.

Thoughts? Please share!