I’ve been thinking about books . . . especially children’s books. Books play a part in informing our minds, developing our thinking and our understanding of the world.This is especially true of books for children and young adults.
Working in a library, I see so many volumes. I used to be an illustrator, and can’t help browsing through the picture book section in particular. There are so many lovely ones. Such variety–and sometimes such propaganda, both good and bad.
What I have noticed in children’s literature (and movies, and TV shows) is a near total lack of any mention of God, of religion, of prayer, especially in more current favorites. It is just not part of the life of any fictional characters. Most books simply do not mention or refer to it at all. (And, sure, there are exceptions.) The God of any religious tradition is simply ignored, as life and adventures go on without any thought of Him.
This has to have a subtle, negative affect on young people, this sidelining of the importance of the spiritual, keeping God entirely off of their radar. Kids love to read about the lives of other kids, and how they solve problems. Reading about others helps them develop and shape their own lives. To leave God out of the equation results in secular kids who do not consider Him at all. It furthers the compartmentalization of religion, and the pressure to have it be totally “private” and with no voice in society. It undermines the lessons that parents teach their kids about God and spirituality.
Not being a writer, I can fret about this but can do nothing. My wish is for authors–and screenplay writers–to just include God as a part of life. I don’t mean I think that everybody should write pious stories of saints, or overtly moralizing tales. Not at all. Write the story that is in your heart, but casually, simply, occasionally, have normal kids and families, and superheroes and fantasy characters, in the course of the plot, do something like, say, go to church on Sunday, say a prayer, or celebrate a holy day/season/celebration. I think that just that simple step would go a long way to teach our children that faith is indeed a part of life.
Just to bring up the possibility is to plant a seed.