Violence in Children's Books

"I am inclined to think, too , that fairy tales suffer in vigour and charm when they are prepared for the children; and that Wordsworth is right in considering that the very knowledge of evil conveyed in fairy tales under a certain glamour, is of use in saving children from painful and injurious shocks in real life." Vol. 2 CM


A reader's question:
After reviewing the books from the booklists from your site and Ambleside and some classical homeschool suggestions, I have some concerns I was hoping you could address for me. I am concerned about the nudity and violence in many of the books I am seeing...Considering the age I am teaching, I was wondering if you could give insight as to how to approach these subjects without blatantly displaying such mature topics.

There is some nudity in some of our schoolbooks, especially art books. I have been known to use a black permanent marker over parts that were just too explicit for very young children. Sometimes I glue a little sticky note over revealing parts. If it is not very explicit, I explain that even though this is not modest, that is how people dressed back then because they did not know God's laws. I've noticed that when I don't make a big deal about it, my kids don't either. They just take it in stride and go on to the next page. We actually can amplify it in their minds if we talk about it too much. Each family has it's own unique boundaries about these issues. Please do as you feel comfortable.

Violence has unfortunately, always had the major share in history and is all around us even today. I would love to shield my little children from it completely, but now feel that it is better if they learn about it gradually under my guidance. Just as the Bible is full of incredibly violent stories (much of which are included in children's storybooks today. My goodness, we have the first murder occurring between two brothers, Cain and Abel!), history books can be used to point out the sinfulness of humans and our need for a Savior. I chose books that give thoughtful messages about the result of violence. These books are different from those that simply contain violence in order to tell a tantalizing tale; books that do a child more harm than good. Children also learn about true heroism and its marks-courage, faith, perseverance, charity- by hearing how individuals overcame difficult circumstances in violent times. I can say that these choices have produced in my own family, young people who desire to be heroes in the strife, noble and kind, rather than violence-loving, fearful creatures.

My children have never been frightened or had a nightmare by anything we have read -and two of my children are very sensitive. I believe there are several reasons for this but an important one is that we are very careful not to allow them to SEE any violence or scary scenes whether in a book or movie while they are very young. I think this makes a huge difference in producing fear.

Miss Mason was very keen on using rich literature that a young child could not read by himself, but could understand if it was read aloud to him. She felt that the teacher should pick and choose, skipping inappropriate passages, but not throwing out an otherwise, wonderful book. I agree with this and do the same. In this way, children are fed a steady diet of ideas clothed in rich literature, enabling them to better understand and enjoy the ideas of great minds in later years that are virtually inaccessible (not comprehensible) to most young people today simply because they never had the opportunity while young to develop a taste for them. I encourage you to rely on God's wisdom as you read aloud to your children, skipping what you feel is inappropriate for a particular child, while, at the same time, remembering to allow a little stretching of the mind for the growth of your precious one.

Blessings and wisdom as you make these important decisions for your own family!

one step at a time...