I chose a new book to review for this blog in which the heroine was a fourth grader. It seemed a sweet book about a little girl who loved books and her favorite place to escape was the school library. Wonderful! Right?

But, as I read, I began to have red flags going up left and right. The story covers a lot of books that are actually in most public and school libraries right now. Several were Newbery award winners and I would judge them to be pretty good. But many on the list were of questionable content, like teaching your children about sex and gender issues, and very horrific, scary stories that would implant evil into your child’s brain.

I love books. I think everyone should love books and we should find ways to teach children and grandchildren to love books, but how do you monitor what they are reading when as parents, you are busy with work, duties at home, and they are old enough to check their own books out at school or the public library?

My daughter was in public school through fourth grade and my son finished kindergarten. Then I took them out to homeschool them. Prior to that, my daughter was exposed to whatever her teachers and the school chose to supply them with. I think most of her books were pretty benign, but I can’t be sure because, until recently I have never read them. In my quest for knowledge on the subject, I am reading many of them now.

One that I read recently was in the Lois Lowry series. I loved her series until the end when one sentence in the last book jumped out at me as a horrible thing to implant in a child’s mind. It was subtly alluded to in other sentences, until that one sentence made it clear. Now, for me, that whole series is ruined.

I don’t know why people feel the need to put bad things in children’s books. It’s like watching a great action movie and then you have to stop it because there is a scene which is totally unnecessary and the equivalent of porn. Or, finding a book to read with a great plot but is filled with cursing or explicit sex scenes.

As Christians, where do we draw the line? When do we stop reading, or turn the TV off? I am in the process of training myself to stop reading immediately, or turn the TV off immediately. For TV, I have tried to fast forward through a bad scene, only to have another scene pop up later… so… I just need to turn it off. And by the way, I have found the ratings of PG and PG13 do not mean they don’t have these segments in them.

Ephesians 4:29 tells us to “let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth….” And Philippians 4:8 says,… “whatsoever things are pure…think on these things.”

If we read curse words, we get them in our head and then they spurt out in a moment of anger. The same thing happens to our children. If we get scenes in our heads… they haunt us forever. The same thing happens to our children.

It is so important to know what your children are reading. If you just took one book a week and read it, you would be moving forward. If you don’t have time to read ahead of your child, you could read with your child and stop if you get to a questionable part.

I think it is important not to rely on others for their opinions on the books, because even among Christians, there are different standards of what one person thinks is wrong versus another. There is some value in reviews, but you need to search it out for yourself. Just like the one sentence I mentioned earlier that ruined the series for me. Most people would miss it, because it is such a tiny blip on the radar.

It’s so hard to avoid evil nowadays. It is everywhere. But, to protect our children, maybe their reading material is a good place to start. How do you choose books for yourself, or your children to read? Where do you draw the line on material you allow to infiltrate your brain and possibly take up residence?