Book List: Honey for a Child’s Heart

Rating: ★★★★★

Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt was the first of the Christian book list books.  First published in 1969, it is now in its fourth edition, published in 2002.  The author has written other books in the same genre (Honey for a Teen’s Heart, Honey for a Woman’s Heart, and Read For Your Life), as well as several books on other topics.

This volume opens by laying out a case that children need not only physical nurture but also relational joy and pleasure  from their parents.  Hunt likens the provision of basic physical needs to giving children milk, and relational nourishment to giving them honey — hence the title of the book.

She devotes a considerable amount of time to introducing easy-to-read, well-researched guidelines to help adults discern what makes one book superior, helpfully supplying a brief history and description of the field of children’s literature.  She delves into the realms of fantasy versus realism, and considers questions such as how to include classic books in family reading and whether Christian parents ought to read books about magic to their children.  She spends a chapter about the bonding that happens when adults share books with children, and another on how to introduce the Bible and moral literature.  This is one of the more comprehensive, knowledgeable and practical guides to building a children’s library that has appeared in any book of this type that I have seen.

In terms of how books form children’s character, she writes that “[e]xample always speaks louder than precept, and books can do more to inspire honor and tenacity of purpose than all the chiding and exhortations in the world” (53). She suggests that while parental relationships are the primary influences on children’s development, we should not discount the effect of television and other social pressures.  In response to external influences, she suggests that parents seek to increase their influence through books.  In her words:

Parents who read widely together with their children are going to be those who most influence their children, who have the largest worldview, who have an uncommon delight in what is good and true and beautiful — and an uncommon commitment to it.  Sharing and feeling and talking together will come naturally.  Books shared with each other provide that kind of climate (99).

She ends this opening  section by suggesting some good strategies for locating and selecting books for a home library, giving a few resources, and suggesting how to include children in the exploration and selection process.

The annotated book list is fairly extensive, containing about 1000 titles, one-third of which overlap with my other Christian book lists.  It is organized by reading level and further by genre, and most titles are individually annotated.  Unlike some other book lists, it focuses almost exclusively on story literature, historical fiction, and poetry as opposed to nonfiction.

While it is more comprehensive, it is less selective than I would prefer in terms of excluding objectionable content — it includes several titles that I do not recommend (among them Harry Potter, Sounder, and Jacob Have I Loved).  As compared to other lists, it seems to include more titles (at least in my part of the country) that are widely popular and easily available at libraries and used book sales.  Because of its excellent introductory chapters and its easy-to-use format, it is the second best book list I have found.  (The best is Books Children Love, which overlaps with one-eighth of this list.)  This is an excellent resource, especially for pleasure reading as opposed to educational books.

Click here for reviews of titles recommended in this list.

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Publication Information: Hunt, Gladys. Honey For a Child's Heart. . 2002 (1969). ISBN: 0310242460.
Categories: 5 Stars, Reviews of Book Lists
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Posted on June 2, 2009


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