Unlocking Your Child’s Spirituality (Part 1 of 4)

BBT-1by Jim Denney,
author of Battle Before Time,
Christian time travel adventure
for young readers

Gladys Hunt, author of Honey for a Child’s Heart, urges parents to give their children the gift of soaring to other times and places, the gift of discovering strange wonders and fascinating people. “Life is full of choices between good, better, and best,” she writes. “Parents are the ones who bend the twig.” How do we, as parents, bend the twig toward what is best? Through good books for children.

“The plea I am making,” Hunt writes, “is simply this — make time for books! . . . Fill your children up with words, with imaginative worlds, with adventures beyond your ken.” 

She goes on to suggest several crucial benefits children derive from good literature:

First, good books teach children to savor life. “Books help children know what to look for in life,” Hunt explains. “Reading develops the taste buds of the mind.” As our culture grows increasingly more corrosive, literature elevates a child’s appreciation of grand ideas and deep truths.

Second, good books introduce children to the world of imagination, creativity, and curiosity. “Fancy a child who hasn’t met a dragon or a unicorn!” writes Hunt. “Imagine a child who doesn’t speculate about what small creatures live in a hollow tree or rocky crevice! That’s the stuff a sense of wonder may feed on.” Good books expand your child’s awareness of the universe of ideas.

Third, good books impart an understanding of different people and cultures. In books, children meet characters from other backgrounds and cultures. Young readers, Hunt says, “come to accept the feeling of being different. . . . Fear, which is the result of not understanding, is removed.” In this way, books help demolish barriers between people, so that understanding can flourish.


Fourth, good books impart confidence, courage, and compassion. “Facing failures and tragedies with the characters of a story,” writes Hunt, “may vicariously give children the experience of courage and loyalty. Weeping with some and rejoicing with others — this is the beginning of a compassionate heart.” Great literature helps children identify with characters who face injustice, hard choices, mistreatment, and loss — and teaches children to endure adversity with character and faith in God.

Fifth, good books provide bonding experiences between parent and child. Hunt quotes Newbery Award laureate Richard Peck (A Year Down Yonder) who recalled, “I heard my first stories in my mother’s voice.” Peck adds that the bedtime-story bonding ritual is vital “because most of who we are is decided in those first five fleeting years of life before we ever see a school.”

Next Saturday, we’ll hear from a researcher who has studied the impact of children’s literature on the spirituality of children.

[Read Part 2 here.]


Note: Don’t miss my interviews with Christian romance writer Robin Lee Hatcher (author of Who I Am With You and An Idaho Christmas: Past and Present), and Christian science fiction writer Kerry Nietz (author of Amish Vampires in Space and Fraught). Visit my website at Writing in Overdrive. See you there!



Note: Battle Before Time, the first book in my newly revised and updated Timebenders series for young readers, has just been released in paperback. Click this link to learn more.

And if you’d like to learn more about how to write faster, more freely, and more brilliantly than you ever thought possible, read my book Writing In Overdrive, available in paperback and ebook editions at Amazon.com. —J.D.


Jim Denney also blogs at Writing in Overdrive and Walt’s Disneyland

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3 Responses to Unlocking Your Child’s Spirituality (Part 1 of 4)

  1. Pingback: Unlocking Your Child’s Spirituality (Part 2 of 4) | Christians Read

  2. Pingback: Unlocking Your Child’s Spirituality (Part 3 of 4) | Christians Read

  3. Pingback: Unlocking Your Child’s Spirituality (Part 4 of 4) | Christians Read

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