Honey For a Child’s Heart

honey-child-heart

Honey for a Child’s Heart (3rd edition), by Gladys Hunt.1989. 224 pages.

I am always trying to decide which books we should check out from the library, which books are worth spending the money to add to our personal library, and which books are a good fit for our children’s personalities, reading tastes, and abilities. A random trip to the local library overwhelms with staggering numbers of books on the shelves, purportedly to enrich children’s reading, and more are added every year.

One of the things I discuss quite often with other home school mothers is this very subject, and one of them asked me recently, “Have you ever read Honey for a Child’s Heart?” As it turns out, I had never even heard of the book, but I wasted no time getting my hands on a copy and read it in a much quicker space of time than is typical for me.

However, despite the wonderful thoughts inspired by the book, and there were quite a few, there were also portions I felt were unnecessarily pretentious. I couldn’t stop myself, at the end, from thinking that Anthony Esolen’s  10 Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child was much better executed and matter of fact while equally well written and eloquent.

Honey for a Child’s Heart is different in that it is an explicitly Christian book, with a strong emphasis on bolstering the Christians values that the parents are already imparting to the child.It also focuses primarily on reading while 10 Ways touches on various aspects of developing a child’s natural imaginative bent.

Thankfully, unlike so many Christians today, Mrs. Hunt recognizes the danger and deficit we inflict on children when we take the position that only those things explicitly marked “Christian” are of any value or worth. More than that, this mindset has in recent years resulted in a severe dearth of imaginative, creative writing from Christian writers:

Since words are the way we communicate experiences, truth, and situations, who should know how to use them more creatively than people who are aware of their Creator? The world cries out for imaginative people who can spell out truth in words that communicate meaningfully to people in their human situation. And of all people, committed Christians ought to be the most creative for they are indwelt by the Creator.

Yet tragically, Christians often seem the most inhibited and poverty-stricken in human expression and creativity. Part of this predicament comes from a false concept of what is true and good. The fear of contamination has led people to believe that only what someone else has clearly labeled Christian in safe. Truth is falsely made as narrow as any given sub-culture, not as large as God’s lavish gifts to men. Truth and excellence have a way of springing up all over the world, and our role as parents is to teach our children how to find and enjoy the riches of God and to reject what is mediocre and unworthy of Him.

The thing that I found most valuable in the book was, I assume, the reason my friend recommended it. The entire final 100 pages of the 224 page book is a bibliography of good books for parents to consider reading to their children or adding to their library. Broken out by age groups and topics of interest, Mrs. Hunt concisely listed hundreds of books which she believes meets the standard of both true and good, and most of them are not explicitly labeled Christian, though a  few are.

I also appreciated her emphasis on making time to read for oneself as well as to your children, even at the expense of a perfect house. It was a bit of comfort last night since I spent the better part of all my weekend downtime reading rather than catching up on the laundry. Reading is a lost art of sorts, and it is worth it to make time for reading.

Overall, it was a good book, and I’m sure that I am way behind the curve of the typical Classical homeschoolers in that I just learned of its existence a couple of weeks ago. If for no other reason than the book list  and the embracing of great literature of various genres, it’s worth a look.

Grade: B+

No content advisory required.

Another good place to find s list of “living books” is here on the Living Books List.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Honey For a Child’s Heart

  1. I know your girls aren’t at this age yet, but for your readers with older children Hunt’s Honey for a Teen’s Heart is excellent. I was able to navigate through the teen years of both a voracious reader and a picky reader with the help of this book. She challenges parents to read and talk about books that may not pass the approval of some, but are nonetheless worthwhile in some way, even if only to illustrate how a writer can convey powerful ideas with the reader all unaware. We had many valuable discussions after reading from the lists in that book. The best part of the book is she rates the books for early teens, middle teens, and late teens so your early teen isn’t exposed to material that is only appropriate for older teens.

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  2. I pushed through the entire book mainly because I knew I wanted to review it (LOL), but also because I didn’t want to miss out on something worthwhile.

    That said, there was a lot of stuff that while good, just weren’t viable within the context of our particular family and as such were things I could do without. But like I said, the lists are invaluable. She did an EXCELLENT job there.

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  3. I just read something that crystallized for me why I found parts of this particular book pretentious.

    The lists, book quotes, suggestions and what not were very helpful, but I found it grating the insistence that a family where the father reads Scripture to the children regularly or reads aloud to the family regularly was…better?

    Now, to be fair, she was only recounting her own family’s journey but at the same time, it just felt…off to me. I know why now.

    Reading the Bible and reading stories aloud to his family is certainly one way (and a valid one at that!) for a man to instill values and bonding within his family unit. But not every man is built that way.

    My husband is smart and resourceful, but not bookish. He read to the girls when they were little, and still today he has no problem engaging in discussions of morality, faith, and truth with them. Some of these discussions often lead to breaking open the pages of Scripture. But in our house, these things are more likely to happen organically rather than ceremonially.

    I think I was perturbed by the insinuation of a formulaic approach, although that could easily have just been my own imagination running wild.

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