Good Literature Provides More Than Amusement

One of the reasons my wife and I give our children good literature to read (which is often not the literature of today but of decades past) is that good literature is more than just an amusing story. Great stories also educate, uplift, and convey morals. They don’t do it in a heavy handed, preachy way. Rather, the reader can find meaning, purpose, and morality as they see the ethics of virtuous and evil characters play out in the story.

I really like how Mitchell Kalpakgian ends his book, The Mysteries of Life in Children’s Literature: Books that Inspire a Love of Life. He concludes:

Hence, if human life is not sacred and children are not heavenly gifts, stories also lose their mystery. They are no longer like Diamond’s dreams or nursery rhymes which mirror the country of Paradise at the back of the North Wind. They are no longer like clear windows which open to a higher world or which receive the light of the moon or the stars. They are no longer a link between the supernatural and the natural or between the past and the present, the transmitters of perennial wisdom and universal truths. Instead stories degenerate to the level of the topical and the political (stories which are multicultural and non-sexist) and to ideology and indoctrination as exemplified in books like Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate. Like all other mysteries, stories also lose their sacramental character when they are stripped of their spiritual and moral content.

Thus the culture of death profanes everything, degrading and cheapening all of life’s mysteries from the miracle of birth to the magic of childhood to the sublimity of love to the sanctity of the home to the mystery of nature to the wonder of Divine Providence to the secret of happiness to the beauty of art. Killing babies, robbing children of their innocence, violating chastity, ruining marriages, destroying homes, altering nature, and deconstructing stories all have a common origin—the attack on the sacredness and inviolability of life. If the gift of human life is not sacred, then nothing is sacred.

Alan Shlemon

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