This is not an excursis; be patient. At a local thrift store I picked up a copy of Meet the Austins, by Madeleine L’Engle. Now, I collect Newbery Award winning books, and L’Engle is one of my favorite children’s book authors. I don’t recommend her theology, and some of her books have some objectionable elements that cause me not to recommend them. As far as writing style, though, I admire her very much. Last night as I looked at all the very strong children’s novels on my bookshelf, I thought again the sadness that they are predominantly set in dysfunctional or absent families.
The L’Engle book has a strong, stable and present family, but is criticized on Amazon because it is too preachy and implausible; this made me laugh. I enjoyed the book very much, but it also started me thinking of the value of stories to teach indirectly a child who may learn best that way.
I have plenty of overly didactic Christian literature. It seems authors have the same trouble I can have launching into monologue, teaching awkwardly, with an almost adversarial tone. Some of the really best authors rather successfully combine everyday life and spirituality of some sort, but the theology isn’t always clear or accurate. Still, that’s my model.
I’d like to write some stories for our children. They won’t be Newbery quality, and I’m not sure that’s my primary goal. They’ll be specifically tuned to my own children’s struggles and spiritual needs, and I’m certain somebody would think they were preachy. I’ve had this desire to write for my children before, but like all good intentions, it needs the discipline of execution to be beneficial.
I really want to suggest that telling or writing stories should be more common among mothers, even mothers who are not nerdy about books. Jesus set an example by teaching with stories. The storytelling tradition should be revived. What do you think?