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.
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 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.
Arthur 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.
Then his mom comes home. Arthur avoids her questions until the last possible moment when he cracks and finally tells the truth.
He 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?
Anne Marie is a Bible Teacher and Bible curriculum writer with more than 25 years of experience. She has created Bible lessons and taught children about Jesus at churches, camps, Christian Schools, and conferences. She is the owner of FutureFlyingSaucers Resources where she helps busy parents and church leaders teach fun, flexible, multi-age, budget-friendly bible object lessons that enhance the spiritual growth of children. She lives with her husband and three children in South Carolina.