I’m assuming most of you atheists didn’t read your kid a religious bedtime story last night. But it might be time to start.
In terms of introducing young kids to certain culturally important religious concepts or stories, or familiarizing them with the fact that people all over the world believe different things (and that none of those things have any more or less validity than the ones practiced by their friends and family members), you can do no better than picture books.
But how do you choose?
As you can imagine, kids’ religious titles run the gamut. Many focus on religious holidays — Rosh Hashanah, Diwali, Christmas, Eid. Others contain more over-arching material — stories about Buddha or Muhammad or the parables of Jesus. Some are meant to “educate” and are much too comprehensive, dated or dry for most little ones to enjoy; others are beautifully illustrated and clearly written with children’s interests in mind. And because a good number are written for religious children, not all of them are a good match for secular families. The worst of the bunch are indoctrination materials, which — in my opinion at least — pose far more questions than answers. But the best can be quite good. They offer fun stories, interesting settings and clever text — and they do it so well that they don’t feel like “learning experiences” — even though that’s exactly what they are.
Of course, it’s sometimes hard to tell the good from the bad and the bad from the ugly. So I here are some tips for choosing titles that won’t confuse your child, offend you, or bore either of you to tears. [Read more...]