“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested…”–Sir Francis Bacon

book sprinkles copy

My family has been after me for ages write up a list of great kids books.  I have put it off for so long because the amount of work I thought it would be.  Today while thinking about making a list once again, I had a great idea, to write up a list and then add to it whenever I remember or read another great book.  So that is what I have done.  I will leave a link at the top of the page with the book list, and I will continue to add to it, so check back.

First, before you read my book list I want to explain why I have chosen the books I have.  I have, in the past few years learned that all books are not created equal.  Some books are like wholesome food that nourish your soul and help you to grow.  Charlotte Mason called these books living books.  Other books are like junk food for your soul, there is no real substance to them and your soul is left feeling hungry for something better.  BFF Amy and I call these books mind candy.

Just as we would never feed our children a diet of junk food, we also shouldn’t feed their souls a diet of junk food either.  Their characters and their souls are being shaped by what we feed to them through books.

Victor B. Cline said, “Nutritionists tell us we are what we eat.  Similarly the quality and character of our spirit is a reflection of what we feast upon—Including the books and magazines we read and the motion pictures, television shows, plays, and other public entertainment we witness.” (emphasis added Ensign, April, 1984)

The books on my book list are books I consider to be living books, or the best books.  The quality of the books you read to your children is much more important then the quantity of books you read to them not only in shaping who they are, but also in creating in them a desire to read themselves. Reading mind candy to your children won’t inspire a love of reading like reading living books to them will.  Living books satisfy a hunger in your soul in a way that mind candy never can.

How do you tell the difference between living books and mind candy?

Living books:

*can be enjoyed by the whole family/not age specific

*bring your imagination to life

*are filled with wonderful life lessons

*feed and nourish your soul

*leave you longing for more when the book ends

*are remembered long after you have read it

*are books you want to read again and again and each time you read it you learn something new.

* teach morals and values.

*are well written and often include beautiful language and imagery

*teach truth

Some examples include:  The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, The Little House on the Prairie Series, The Chronicles of Narnia Series

Mind Candy is the opposite of living books.

Mind Candy:

*is usually a fad book, meaning it won’t stand the test of time, popular one day and then forgotten,

*is just entertainment

*doesn’t really include any morals/values or life lessons, in fact…

*the lines between good/bad may be blurred

*Doesn’t require you to use your imagination much

*not something you want to read over and over

*may be targeted for a specific age/ not something the whole family can enjoy together

Some examples include:  Captain Underpants Series, Junie B. Jones,  Most books featuring the latest popular TV character like Dora, or Barney

 Where can you find living books?  A good place to start is with a list of classics.  They have already stood the test of time, usually with good reason.  However, the only true way to know if a book is a living book or mind candy is to read it.  You can usually tell in the first chapter or so if it has any real substance or not.  If it doesn’t, don’t waste your time reading it, put it down and pick up something else.  Don’t feel obligated to read the whole book simply because you started it.

If you are not sure if a book is a living book, or not, compare it to one of your favorite books that you know is a living book.  What do you like about the living book?  Does the book in question have the same characteristics as the living book?  Is it on the same level as far as language and imagery goes?  Does it promote the same kinds of lessons and values?   I have cleared a lot of books off of my book shelf by comparing them in this way.

In assessing any book ask yourself questions like:  What is the purpose of this book?  Is the purpose simply to entertain me or does it teaching me something?  If it is teaching me something, what is it teaching me?  Did I enjoy it enough to read it again?   If I read it again will I learn anything the second time around?  Ask yourself these questions about the books you are reading to your children as well.

The more you read living books the easier it is to recognize the difference between a truly great, living book and a book that is simply mind candy.


Click the “Book List” tab  at the top of the page to see my recommend list of books

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