As a school teacher, I exposed my students to as much literature that I could get my hands on. I even made weekly visits to the city library to compensate for our small classroom library…and my students would sometimes choose to skip recess in order to hear “one more story, please!” A desire to hear stories, to identify with colorful characters, and learn through the circumstances and choices of another seems to be universal among children…and maybe adults as well. Jesus spoke in parables, after all. My 3 year old loves when I tell her stories of when I was young. No fancy illustrations required. Just, “then what happened, Mommy?”
Before our daughter was born, I was desperate to fill our family library with stories for her to enjoy, so I collected books from here and there and waited impatiently for her grow in to them. But, the Lord rebuked my indiscretion, and has instead, given me a viscously discerning eye. Things are no longer what they seem. I now look over books I adored several years ago (and cluelessly read to my students) and think “I would NEVER let my child read this!” In reviewing some of the classics, I no longer see frivolous tales of fun and mischief….I see two very dangerous extremes: Brazen propaganda (humanism, evolution, rebellion, magic, fantasy) or Foolish amusement (nonsensical stories with no plot, no moral, and no point). I see the devil playing with our children’s minds while we dizzily rejoice that they are reading….But, WHAT are they reading? I stand in the children's section of the bookstore and I see goofy, naughty, silly, busy, furry, funny, and pure evil. I see the line between light and darkness and right and wrong being blurred beyond recognition. Does anyone know if The Cat in the Hat is supposed to be the hero or the villain? I’m still trying to sort that one out! And, why would anyone glamorize the life of a “wimpy kid”? Or want to tell stories to kids to give them “goosebumps” (and nightmares)? This is the devil’s work. The scripture tells us to not to be “ignorant of the devil’s devices” (II Corinthians 2:11) So, I praised the Lord for the truth he had shown me and cleared my shelves to start anew.
I made a list of what I was really looking for…what I thought would profit a developing mind…and turn it toward truth. And I said, Lord, I would like books that engage the imagination without filling the mind with occult fantasy….books that challenge the reader with a broad vocabulary and proper use of the English language….books that inspire the reader to heroism rather than glamorizing the victim mentality...books that glorify You, teach humility, obedience, and integrity…books that won’t distract with silliness or detract with wickedness…books that contain adventure stories that captivate, challenge, and transform the reader….books that expose the reader to accurate, interesting, and appropriate accounts of history, and foreign cultures without bending their minds away from biblical truth...books that use adventure, misfortune, and adversity to teach children to be courageous, to fight for truth, to overcome.
That list sounds pretty impossible, huh? A little too much to ask? Maybe if I were looking at the public library - or even the “Christian” book store, for that matter. But, with the Lord’s leading, I found them! And I want you to find them too.
Lamp Lighter Publishing is a non-profit ministry with the motto “Building Character…one story at a time….” These stories were originally written over 100 (some over 200) years ago. When their copyrights expired they became public domain….and sat dormant until someone had the vision to bring them back to life. Lampligher publishes these treasured tales with scrupulous discretion and helpful updates like translated words at the bottom of the page, and scriptural references to accompany the stories. The vivid vocabulary, culture, and history of the time of authorship are perfectly preserved and some stories include supplemental sketches and other artwork. The lamplighter website is like the “Christian bookstore” we all wish Lifeway was. Stories that uphold biblical truth and none of the “other stuff”. They carry children stories, professionally recorded audio dramas, and missionary biographies.
I would recommend signing up for the email discounts, because some of the collections are kind of pricey and it would be wise to wait for a good sale. But, what better investment can you make? We can’t wait to “collect them all” as the Lord allows. For now, we have the Fireside Readings series (vol 1-3) and LOVE the short, adventure-filled stories. As the Lord grows our family, we will delight in sharing them over and over with our children. I hope they are a blessing to your family as well.