We pulled up to our house with our large haul of library books. Everyone clambered inside and immediately sat down to look at the new books they had picked out. I took the opportunity to do the dishes from lunch while my boys were engaged in turning pages, but soon enough was beckoned over to read aloud one of the books.
As I started to read, I suddenly clued in that the beautifully illustrated graphic novel we were enjoying was not quite what I thought it would be. I looked at the pictures, realizing that family dynamics only got more complicated as the book progressed. I closed the book, and said, “You know what boys, let’s read a different book instead!”
There is a time and place for conversations about what the world tells you will bring happiness versus what God tells us. But this afternoon with my young pre-school aged children was not the time.
Since then, I have been more careful about leafing through and previewing books before we bring them home.
Libraries are incredible places, but not all materials or programs available at the library line up with what Christians believe about the world. I want my children to see the beauty of the world and of truth. I don’t want what they read to celebrate or normalize life without God or life without a moral compass.
Additionally, there are some great materials at the library that I would love for my kids to read when they are a little older, but don’t think they are ready for yet. As parents, we are our children’s guides through life. That includes guiding them through the resources available at the library–through the amazing options and mediocre ones alike.
Here are a few ways I navigate exploring the library with my very young children.
First, I always accompany my kids.
I try to make it an experience we can enjoy together. We attend story time together, check out the library learning computer games together, and look at traveling exhibits together. That way if something comes up that my kids have questions about, I am better able to discuss it with them.
Depending on how big your local library is, there may be several fascinating events taking place each week or even day. Make sure you take a look at your library’s list of offerings to see what opportunities are available to you.
Next, I also always look at the materials they want to borrow.
They have the freedom to pick out books, kits, and CDs they want to bring home, but I maintain veto power if it is something I don’t think they’re ready for yet.
One section we try in the library — non-fiction.
Instead of perusing the main fiction section of the children’s library, I give my kids more free rein over the non-fiction section. The geography, arts and craft, biology, automobile, etc. books usually contain content that doesn’t give me pause.
I put books on hold online.
I often reserve books that I have already researched or have been recommended to me. Then we can pick up our books in the hold section, or utilize curbside pickup, and still have fun new books to look at that I’ve already vetted.
I keep the conversation open.
I talk with my kids about what we read together. If it is normal to discuss the content you are consuming with each other, then as they mature those conversations will continue but just with greater depth.