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    Finding Age-Appropriate Reading For Our Kids

    By Seth Mullins     

    Many parents are concerned about media: the violence and adult situations their children can be exposed to through movies, television and music. Many look to reading as a healthier alternative to these other forms of entertainment. Turn off the TV and read a good book instead – this is a credo in some circles today.

    With regards to books, however, we parents are still obliged to exercise our discretion. Even if they are free of disturbing content, they may still be inappropriate for what stages our children are passing through in their process of growth.

    Fairy tales have endured for ages because they ring so true with young children. We have inherited many watered-down versions over the years, but children resonate with the raw depiction of life found in the originals. They are living in a fairy-tale kind of consciousness up until the age of five or six, and they appreciate stories that present them with both the lightness and the darkness of life. Fairy tales appeal to their sense of adventure, courage and persistence. These stories recognize our young ones’ fears and offer them hope.

    As they grow beyond this stage, children become more concerned with the outside world. Many of them start reading on their own. A lot of educators advise steering early-grades kids towards reading that will inform their awareness of their environment – the flow of the seasons, and all its animal life, flora and human interaction. This is a period where we want our children to be grounded in their awareness of the earth. With non-fiction books, we might begin with matter that depicts the geography and life of their immediate environment and then slowly expand to their state, country, and finally to the world at large.

    After fifth or sixth grade, our kids will be ready for stories that confront them with more of the complexities of life – with matter that deals with the gray rather than the mere black and white. They’re prepared to understand characters with more psychological and moral complexity. If their interest runs towards fantasy and/or science fiction then this kind of reading becomes more appropriate during Middle and High School grades. Fantasy is a genre that takes the raw materials of life (which their reading in their pre-pubescent years tended towards) and using them to fashion new creative worlds. So kids may end up gravitating towards fiction that nourishes their imaginations in the same way that Fairy tales did when they were little. But now the stories will encompass the more complex world-view of a young adult.

    Reading can be the keystone of children’s education, the means through which they can learn about virtually any subjects that stir their interest as well as feed their imaginations. Steering them towards stories and non-fiction that reflects where they are in their mental and spiritual development will foster a learning process that is in right balance with the rest of their life experience.

    Written by Seth MullinsRate this article:

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