I just finished reading two children’s stories, Jessica’s First Prayer and Jessica’s Mother by Hesba Stretton to my children. I can’t help but marvel at how wonderfully these two stories convey the realities of life. In Jessica’s First Prayer, a poor street girl name Jessica befriends a coffee stall owner (i.e., a “barista” in our Starbucks world) and learns about God. In the sequel, Jessica’s Mother, Jessica tells her wretched mother about God.
We live in an age where the world appears to be growing increasingly hostile to God and glorify things and behaviors that are immoral. In order to counter such reality, some have taken steps to republish and/or publish books that are of good morals and devoid of any bad content. This, of course, is done with good intentions. However, I have a problem with it: these kind of books don’t seem real to me. The fictitious world remains fictitious, like a mere fairy tale, and does not seem to bear any likeness to the real world. In contrast, the stories I’ve been reading, though fictitious, speak so much truth and the realities of the world because the author was willing to write about the difficulties of life, hardness of heart, vileness of humanity, death, abuse, etc. As a matter of fact, according to Wikipedia, the author of the books was one of the founders of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in 1884, and worked to eliminate child abuse and poverty.
My children have no misunderstanding when it comes to right and wrong, good and bad when listening to these two books. I am careful to pick out books that have good content and teaches eternal and Biblical values. I do not shy away from good books that discuss difficulties in life because they accurately depict the world as it is, perhaps more vividly than my children might otherwise experience living where we do.
Another book that I absolutely adore is Teddy’s Button by Amy Le Feuvre. This story is about a little boy name Teddy who is mischievous, naughty, and hostile to a new girl name Nancy in the community. The verbal mud slinging exchange between Teddy and Nancy is something we wish our own children would never utter. Yet why do I like it? Because it’s a very accurate depiction of children and their falleness. The story does not end here. Teddy becomes saved and now he has a battle in his mind and heart where he must defeat his bad self. As he goes through spiritual transformation, we see his heart softens towards Nancy whom he once deemed as the most hated person in his life. I love this story! Books that tell the realities of life are heartwarming to me.
Note: The full text of Jessica’s First Prayer is available online. However, I strongly prefer actual books that I can hold, especially for reading to the children, and both of the “Jessica” stories can be purchased in one paperback volume.