Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fantasy ~ Magic ~ Fairytales

A question was posed on the same board I read - it seems to be full of thoughtful things for me recently - and here it is:


Magic, Fairytales, Fantasy in Literature- Looking for some Answers! Please help!,

I am currently taking Literature for Children, a 300 level class. I admit I am one of those that is cautious and wary of this type of literature for religious reasons. Please can someone explain, enlighten me as to why and how exactly this is still beneficial and important? Does it really challenge our values to an extent that we actually become stronger? Even children?
I am quite lost! Please advise. Thankyou



Here was my answer:


I am not sure what a 300 level class is, but I will give you my thoughts on literature for children. You wrote: "Does it really challenge our values to an extent that we actually become stronger? Even children?"


We are a Christian family who reads all sorts of literature at what we feel are the appropriate ages. This really is a family to family decision that cannot be decided by group discussion. One family here will thing Harry Potter is a bad choice and other families will think it is just fine. You have to decide for yourself.


I think the better question is to ask yourself would be, why NOT read the literature and what literature are you referring to specifically? Not all fantasy, fairytales, and magic stories are the same by any means. We really enjoy this type of literature, but we view it through our Christian worldview lenses. We can still enjoy it for its story quality though.


My 11 and almost 9 yods can spot differing worldviews in a story because they know their own - that is really the key to me. The world if full of different viewpoints, ideas, and stories. In my personal view it narrows their lives if we prevent children from experiencing some of them. It also may limit their ability to understand their own culture and those around them. Does this mean you have to let them read any and everything? By no means! That is what good parental filtering is for. I am careful what I give them, but I do not completely limit any one kind of story.


I think of the Chronicles of Narnia for example - yes there is magic there, and even a white witch, but there are also some very good moral examples of self-sacrifice, realization of one's inner sinful choices, and repentance. What is the ultimate message of any book that we give our children? I hope to convey truths through the stories we read. In my worldview, all truth is ultimately God's truth so what truths we read about support our faith. Just because it is in fantasy form or have magic elements in it does not make it a poor choice.


Does it make my children stronger? I think so. They can sort through what is truth and what is false with a greater ease because they are exposed to it in the safety of our home with the help of a mother who can help them discern. It has also fostered amazing conversations that would not have happened otherwise. Read aloud time is a good place to start this.

So what would you have said?


3FoldChord said...

about the same. There is a difference between the witch's magic ( wich is hurtful to others in order to benefit her) and the gifts that Aslan gave that are used to help others.

I also think there is something tobe said about the intention of the authir, I think , even a 'tame' story written by , say a wiccan, will NOT be good for my children. I think the things in the heart come out in the writing, even if the writing isn't about the things in the heart.

and, like all else, it is a personal decision for each family that will differ from family to family.

Right now I am wondering about the magic potions in the NeoPet games..... Is it really bad? Is it one of those 'acceptible' things?.... I'll pray some more and wait for the answer.

Babs said...

Well said! I think I would also add that I feel comfortable and strong in our faith. Learning about other religions and the broad world of ideas does not scare me into fearing that my children will waiver in their own faith. I think you are right; it can actually enhance and maybe even expand their understanding. I put more faith in their firm foundation.

I, like you, do filter what my children read. There are some themes that are too mature for the little ones to be exposed to. There are some themes that no one needs to be exposed to. Like you said, the chosen themes are for each family to decide.

Personally, I love a good fantasy adventure story.

homeskoolmom said...

My children absolutely adore the Narnia books. I loved "Wizard of Oz" growing up and I know Harry Potter is all the rage these days. God condemns witchcraft and likens it to rebellion. That being said, we see Narnia, (sorry no experience with LOTR) "Wizard" and Harry Potter in 3 different categories. In the Narnia books, witchcraft is portrayed as evil. Aslan is not a witch, he is a representation of God and does no "magic". "Wizard of Oz" portrays Glenda the "good witch" since we know there are no such things as "good witches" we have gotten rid of our copy (actually twice), HP, Sabrina the teenage witch, and Bewitched, are all in an even different category. They normalize witchcraft and make it appear innocent and good.

As far as taking any class on stories involving witchcraft-- real or fiction, I would personally steer clear. We are told to think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Witchcraft is none of these things, therefore, imo, it deserves none of our thoughts.

God bless,


johng said...

As someone who works with children's fiction as an avocation, I admire all the comments to your post. All the commenters seem to have a good handle on the place of fiction.

I grew up in a safe place. That is, I was a 50's American child. There were no such things as dangerous children's books. There are today. Most of your comments seems to reflect correctly that fear. So, in choosing fiction, look at the original copyright date first. If it's the 1950's or earlier (even in a reprint) you can be sure the themes therein have been monitored by teachers, librarians, professors who taught and read in a Christian era. Children's writers before the mid 60's dealt with a Christian world. Better yet, if the book is a used library book (public, school, church), someone who loved and knew children's books had some hand in selecting the book. Their knowledge can be a gift to you.

You still may not like the book; it may not be worthy reading. But it will not be dangerous.

Parents are the best judge here. My last experience with an university level education course was not good; I would be skeptical of their ideas.