Our children are so very impressionable, especially at young ages. This is an excellent opportunity for us to whet their appetites with the Bible, literature, art, history and activities to help grow them mentally, spiritually, and relationally.
On the other hand, there are other things we can feed them that can cause an appetite for less than stellar growth. Things that would actually dull their imagination, quench relationship growth, and potentially lead them away from God.
And sometimes, I think we can write this off as legalism or putting our children in a bubble, but that is not the case at all.
An appetite is simply a desire for something. We want our children to desire wholesome and good things. Most importantly, we want our children to desire God and not be distracted away from what's good.
Too Much TV
I have noticed when I constantly allow my children to give in to their desires for television or computer games, then that's all they want to do; watch TV or play on the computer. Additionally, when allotted too much free time due to my lack of discipline, I find it extremely hard to reign them in to do their responsibilities - whether it's lessons or chores. Too much free time (even free reading time) can lead to feelings of entitlement.
Disclaimer: I am not saying these things are bad. I am saying that a large quantity of time with these things can have a much more negative impact than you might realize.
So, when it comes time to sit down and read the Bible or a great piece of literature, I am met with groans and complaints. This is when I allow more TV viewing or free time than I know is best. At times they even know it. They will comment on how tired they are from "sitting around too long".
Appetite for Reading
On the other hand, when I limit TV viewing (say, to the weekends only), my children are more focused during the week and are more eager to sit with me and read. As a matter of fact, more often then not, they are coming to me with a book! But typically, it's only when what's been dished up has changed to something hearty and wholesome; from screen to study.
As parents, we are responsible for developing the appetite for reading and other activities in our children.
H. Clay Trumbull said
A love of reading is an acquired taste, not an instinctive preference. The habit of reading is formed in childhood; and a child's taste in reading is formed in the right direction or in the wrong one while he is under the influence of his parents; and they are directly responsible for the shaping and cultivating that taste.
In other words, in most cases our children are not going to automatically want to read. It is a passion or desire that must be fed. Families do vary in dynamic, but for my children? It doesn't take long (a week?) before their appetites are turned, likely because my children are still relatively young.
The hard part? Remaining consistent with feeding the good appetite, because good food requires more work and sacrifice. Amen? ;)
Here are a few excellent titles to get you started.
- The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- The Jesus Storybook Bible
- Dr. Seuss books
- Beatrix Potter stories (A Beatrix Potter Treasury is a good resource)
- James Herriot's Treasury for Children
- The Children's Illustrated Bible
- Little House on the Prairie series
- Sarah Plan and Tall
- Trailblazer Series (This series has 40+ books about Christian missionaries. The Kindle versions are only $2.99 each!)
Whole Family Read-Alouds
- The Railway Children
- The Secret Garden
- The Chronicles of Narnia series
- Christian Heroes: Then and Now (This is a collection of missionary biographies that are excellent. There are 19 books and do not need to be read in any kind of order)
Books With Book Lists
These books offer lists of excellent titles based on age and genre. What I've offered is just a tiny sampling. This is a great (and minimal) investment!
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