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In the Christian world, stories laced with dark content—especially for children—will always spook whole flocks of eyebrows into concerned flight. The "content" of a book or film is parsed out, every bit of shadow flagged and ...

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audrey ruth

January 29, 2014  10:42am

The problem with "dark-tinted stories" is that they do NOT show God overcoming evil. In the ones I know about, they actually show evil battling evil - people using sorcery to "defeat" evil. But Jesus said, "Satan cannot cast out Satan." Stories which DO show how powerfully God overcomes evil (especially those straight from His Word) are the stories which build faith in children's hearts and minds. The Lord says, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." There is no truth and no wisdom apart from Him.

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audrey ruth

January 21, 2014  7:43pm

I read somewhere that the word "fear" in OT scripture is translated as "worship" in NT scripture. And that makes perfect sense to me. When I read or heard Bible stories as a child, my overwhelming reaction was AWE, that He was that powerful AND that good. At age four, I was so fascinated by the fact that God had made *everything* that I got into trouble for asking who made God! Later I learned, of course, that He is eternal - He had no beginning and He has no end. I wish the person who got mad at me for asking about His origin had just told me that. :) I had some wonderful experiences from God throughout childhood, made a decision at age fourteen but drifted for a few years, and then He really got my attention when I was twenty-one. I met Him in a whole new way, He opened my understanding, I could comprehend things I had not even imagined before, and I've never looked back. The ministry of the Holy Spirit guarded and changed my life, and He is with me 24/7 as Jesus promised.

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Rick Dalbey

January 21, 2014  7:21pm

Audrey, growing up I had a very conventional Pastor, Reverend Taylor, who shepherded a small community Christian Missionary Alliance Church in Hayward California. He simply preached the whole gospel. He had no particular doctrinal axe to grind. His heart was really in missions and evangelism. I think I was the one with the big imagination. I read voraciously, won prizes for scripture memorization (box of 24 snickers) and sword drills. But I knew I wasn't born again, which set up the conflict, because I knew the Bible was true in a way no fiction book could be. That is a hard thing to live with and I was a bright kid. From age 11 on I read 10-15 books a week (the checkout limit) every summer. They were not children's books, but science fiction, war, history, biographies, fiction. I read every page of the 27 volumes of the Worldbook encyclopedia. Not a normal kid. Finally I met the Lord at 19. Now I know God is my Papa and I am loved. But the "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

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audrey ruth

January 20, 2014  5:17pm

Rick, it sounds like you had a very, um, imaginative pastor. I cannot agree that the Bible is scary or gory, and I read it when I was young. Even when I was a kid the Bible never scared me at all, BUT I was very sensitive to dark books, movies, TV shows, etc. Yes, we should all obey the Holy Spirit, and I am so glad He led my hub and me to reject spiritual darkness and stay in the Light of the world. :) Our children are grown now, and I have zero regrets. AMEN to Wil Chan!

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Linda Fiatoa

January 20, 2014  4:04am

Does this mean that he's ok with kids reading things like Harry Potter, or Enders game, or Hunger games?

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Wil Chan

January 19, 2014  12:14am

Instead of reading Grimm's fairy tales for your children, why don't you do them a favour and read Bible Stories books from http://www.biblestoriesalive.org/ instead. Those 58 books have been around in the last 40 years. They are told in captivating manner yet fidelity to the Scripture. There is no better gift for children to have an interest in simple, clear, enjoyable and factual Bible stories . This may lead them to read the Bible for themselves. How we need them to read the Bible!

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Rick Dalbey

January 17, 2014  6:09pm

The Bible was BY FAR the scariest book I read as a child. I knew fairy tales were not true, but these stories were true! Our pastor preached about hell where “the worm dieth not” and there's no escape. I knew I wasn’t saved but I resisted because I wanted to continue in sin. Talk about scary! I'd lay in bed and worry I would die. When my parents were late from prayer meeting I would turn on Christian radio to make sure the rapture hadn’t happened. When communion was served I would pocket the bread because the pastor said, “he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation.” When Jesus won the wrestling match when I was 19, I was sooo relieved! It was so amazing to be born again into the forever family with my future sealed! God’s grace is so magnificent. But for those that reject Him “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Over time, we overlook the Bible's terror because we're redeemed. But it is a frightening book for the unrepentant.

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Rick Dalbey

January 17, 2014  5:18pm

Or, a super-strong, violent naked guy posessed by 3000 demons (a legion is 3000-6000) who hides out in the graveyards. He is a monster “no one could tame him.” Like the incredible Hulk, he would break any iron chains or shackles. “And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.” Awwooo! Or the little boy in the gospels who was posessed by a demon who takes him over in a trance and throws him into any fire that he is around. Or a war in Revelation where “blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles!!!” Never seen that in a movie! The very definition of gore. Or Jesus returning to fight brandishing a sword with “a robe dipped in blood”. Or supernatural flying scorpions that sting and make you wish you were dead. Beats the Wizard of Oz’s flying monkeys. Or a sea of blood. Crucifixion had to be the goriest way to die, though some prophets were sawn in two. We could go on.

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audrey ruth

January 17, 2014  4:19pm

Rick, I cannot agree that the Bible is scary or gory. The verses you gave are very isolated. Even when I was a kid the Bible never scared me at all, BUT I was very sensitive to dark books, movies, TV shows, etc. Yes, we should all obey the Holy Spirit, and I am so glad we did. :)

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Sylvia Thomas

January 17, 2014  9:39am

I really appreciate this article. I found it via Kirk Cameron and was expecting a list of books. I do like the books recommended in the comments but did I miss yours Mr. Wilson? (Haha, sounds like I'm talking to Dennis the Menace's neighbor! Sorry.)

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Rick Dalbey

January 16, 2014  11:42pm

I haven't read Grimm's fairy tales so I can't judge. You have to do what the Holy Spirit tells you. But I reiterate, the Bible is a gory, scary book unless one factors in Jesus Redemption. "But Amasa took no heed to the sword that was in Joab's hand: so he smote him therewith in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels (intestines) to the ground, and struck him not again; and he died. And Amasa wallowed in blood in the midst of the highway." 2 Sam. 20:10 or “And he brought out the people that were in it, and cut them with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes. Even so dealt David with all the cities of the children of Ammon." or “When he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel.” or boy David not only killing Goliath but taking a sharp sword and sawing off his head. If the lake of fire and eternal punishment with no relief isn't scary, then I don't know what is!

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audrey ruth

January 16, 2014  10:05pm

Before I understood all I wrote earlier, I bought a book of Grimm's fairy tales for my children because they were considered classics when I was a child. I did not realize how unbelievably gory and horrific they really were - the popular ones everyone has heard had been very 'sanitized'. I read a story or two, and the Spirit of God prompted me to trash that book. A wonderful spirit of peace pervaded our home afterward. All of us, children included, were glad to see it go. I cannot agree with you about the stories in the Holy Bible. Yes, God tells it like it was - but there's nothing scary about them. Because they're written from His POV, there's no spirit of fear which provokes anxiety. Similarly, Patricia St. John did not gloss over unredeemed human nature - she portrayed unsaved people as they really are, even children, always glorifying God in her stories. If you haven't read one, please do. You'll see what I'm talking about. They're all excellent. No scripture supports dark books.

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Rick Dalbey

January 16, 2014  8:06pm

Audrey, I agree to a point. The scariest stories in the whole world are in the Bible. Rape, murder, demonic possession, monsters, horrible diseases, the Lake of Fire, eternal punishment, genocide, war, you name it. The Bible teaches that evil has consequences and it is quite graphic. We forget that. BUT it is all within a clear moral context. Jesus cast out demons, David killed the giant, Samson killed the Philistines. The horror of the fallen world makes us appreciate even more our wonderful, perfect, loving savior and King. He rules over all! This comes through so clearly in most of the books I recommended. They are about character formation, self sacrifice, developing maturity and wisdom. I would not expose children to books where there is no moral framework, where God does not exist, evil has no consequences or is even celebrated. I appreciate Charity's take on Grimm's fairy tales.

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audrey ruth

January 16, 2014  6:18pm

I cannot agree that we need to expose children to spiritually dark things, be they in books, movies, etc - for these reasons: The Lord tells us throughout the NT not to be like those who walk in spiritual darkness, but to walk in the light. Jesus is the Light of the world. This scripture from Isaiah 7 prophesies of the Messiah as a child: "Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good." This is how Jesus was reared - the very Son of God! - and it is great wisdom for parents who love the Lord and want to honor Him in all they do. The Lord says that He has delivered us (Christians) "out of darkness, into His marvelous light." Why would we want to go back into the darkness from which He delivered us, and, even worse, subject our children to that spiritual darkness? His Word shows us evil from HIS point of view. An author who wrote exceptional books for children from this premise was Patricia St. John. I highly recommend her books.

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Charity Watson

January 16, 2014  11:56am

Our family has been reading the original Grimms Fairytales to our elementary kids before bed. We were expecting gore and nightmares. What we found was stories that illustrate the wisdom of Proverbs, stories that constantly allude and draw inspiration from Bible stories, and stories where in the darkest moments (and they can get pretty dark) the Hero is not afraid to just sink down to his or her knees and prays "Dear God! Just Please Help!".

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Katherine V

January 15, 2014  9:52pm

I'd also add current/modern fiction to the wonderful list formed below! For children: Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick is a very child appropriate book that explores the pain of chronically sick younger siblings. The Giver by Lois Lowry is also high on the kid's list for me. For teens I would add the following books: The Divergent series by Veronica Roth (discussed virtues and vices as well as eventual eugenics); Feed by M. T. Anderson (what happens when you hook up your brain to the internet); Cry the Beloved Country by Alon Paton (apartheid); North of Beautiful by Justina Chen (self-image and verbal abuse); Right Behind You by Gale Giles (childhood trauma); any book by Matt de la Pena (minority / low-income); and finally (with much much discussion with adults) any of the books by Ellen Hopkins (drug use and mental disorders). Of course, every book suggestion should be tempered by your own understanding of the maturity of the child involved.

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Rick Dalbey

January 15, 2014  5:13pm

Nancy, good addition. It was such a pleasure to introduce my kids to good literature. In the summer my daughter would gather her little girl friends and I would read the Lord of the Rings in character voice. A work-at-home Dad in the neighborhood caught on and he had the same gang of girls over to read one of the books to them when I did not have time. It was so fun and character forming to read the Narnia Chronicles to my two boys. My book of choice as a 12 year old was Huckleberry Finn. I must have read it from cover to cover one summer at least 10 times. I'm not surprised God told the Israelites to post scriptures on their door ways and to wear them in a tiny box on their foreheads and wrist. Jesus is The Word. He keeps a book of Life. The Holy Spirit is the author of 66 books with one exciting theme, the redemption of mankind by the resurrected King.

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NANCY WOOD

January 15, 2014  4:30pm

Mr. Dalbey, I love your list. I would add To Kill A Mockingbird when children are old enough to understand what the trial is about.

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Rick Dalbey

January 15, 2014  2:19pm

Children should read Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the seven volumes of the Narnia Chronicles, Animal Farm, 1984, Farenheit 451, Lord of the Flies, the CS Lewis Perelandra trilogy, the Diary of Ann Frank, Treasure Island, Moby Dick. Their imaginations should me nurtured on David and Goliath, Daniel in the Lion's Den, Noah and the Ark, Samson, Esther vs Haman, the gospel miracles of Jesus. Children should be exposed to poetry, Dr. Suess, e.e. cummings, Archy and Mehitabel, Langston Hughes and the delight of words. I was required in 6th grade to memorize the soliloquies of Shakespeare, the Rubiyat of Omar Khyam. This is how I raised my 3 children as well. They are bright, moral, well educated young adults who know how to communicate.

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David Swartz

January 15, 2014  2:13pm

Mr. Wilson, how about a list of some of those books to give us a place to start?

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