When I was studying Elementary Education as a college student, I took a class on children’s literature. In the class, we discussed what makes good literature, and what is considered not good literature. Sometimes “good literature” is stuff that’s hard to read and not-so-happy endings, and not Disney princesses and happy endings. Sometimes the tendency is to sugar coat things for our children… when it doesn’t need to be. There is this theory I have that involves choosing books (and films) that aren’t necessarily “realistic,” but that will make my children think and generate good discussion.

I know there has been some discussion on this topic amongst Christian circles, especially involving the Hunger Games and (maybe?) the Twilight series. I haven’t read either of the books, but I have seen the Hunger Games film. Part of me wishes I didn’t see it because it was really dark, and there weren’t many any Biblical principles to draw from it (Kill or be killed isn’t exactly Biblical; neither is ‘May the odds be ever in your favour.’). Aside from the darkness of it, I think Hunger Games was brilliantly written. The story line in the film kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time, but for awhile I was still hung up on how dark it was. Did I really just watch that?

Hunger Games Trilogy

Image credit: michi003

Would I let our child(ren) read or watch books or films that are like Hunger Games when they’re old enough? I don’t know. Our children are too young to even fathom watching films and reading books right now, so Leon and I will make the decisions for them.

In the future, I will say that books and films like this can be good teaching tools. They are good for teaching what is Biblical, and how to distinguish from fiction and real life. At the same time letting our children watch something that dark, about a world without a God, is dangerous. Our children could be deceived by the message.

It’s such a difficult line to walk, isn’t it?

Open Bible

Image credit: DrGBB

I don’t really want to tell my child(ren), “No, you can’t watch this. It’s bad,” without giving them a good Biblical way of seeing the bad in it themselves. I want to teach them that ‘…whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise…’ they should ‘think about these things.’ (Philippians 4:8) So maybe this whole sheltering and protecting my children is more about teaching them to recognise what is glorifying to God, and pray they’ll make a wise decision based on that.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Mmm… teaching our children to glorify God with their decisions rather than shelter them completely? Yes, please. At the same time, we need to keep another passage of Scripture in mind.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6:22-23

We (not just our children) are little input-output machines. What goes into our hearts is reflected in what comes out. If I’m putting darkness in, certainly darkness will come out. I think it all goes back to making a decision that will glorify God, keeping in mind that it might compromise our (and their) relationship with God if we’re not careful.

How about you? What are your thoughts on letting your children watch films and read books that aren’t necessarily Biblical?