Ratings & Criteria

Books and book lists are rated using a five-star scale:

5 Stars – Excellent quality; supports or builds a biblical worldview.  Every child should have the chance to read these books at least once, and they make up the core of an ideal home library.
4 Stars – Very good or good quality; supports a biblical worldview.  A home library ought to have a good selection of these, but not necessarily all of them.
3 Stars
– Average quality; does not detract from a biblical worldview.  Three-star books often make good public-library checkouts.
2 Stars
– Mediocre quality, or contains themes which may be objectionable.
1 Star – Poor quality, or contains negative themes.

Books are rated by five criteria.  The best stories:

  • Demonstrate excellent writing and illustrations. Conceptual quality and skillful execution is essential in capturing readers’ attention; a boring story with a good message is a bad story.  Good writing and good art are worthwhile for their own sakes — as expressions of human creativity, they exemplify the creativity of God and bring Him glory.
  • Support biblical truth. Where spiritual and theological concepts are discussed they should harmonize with the Bible’s clear teaching about the Creator, the world and humanity’s place in it.  Good should exist in opposition against evil; stories should support a biblical view of authority in the areas of nationalism, creation stewardship, and family.
  • Contribute to an understanding of Christian character. Christian virtues (courage, loyalty, kindness, moral purity, and others) should be exemplified and rewarded, and faults (pride, treachery, laziness, cruelty, and so on) ought to meet with appropriate consequences.  There also ought to be a demonstration of grace for human failings and the recognition that actions emanate from the heart.
  • Help model appropriate ways of relating to others. Especially important are stories where parents are loving and faithful toward each other, as well as being wisely and affectionately involved in the lives of their children.  Children should be respectful of parents and have positive relationships with their siblings and others.  Where problems in these relationships exist, they should be resolved in constructive ways.
  • Expand readers’ experience of the world, opening up experiences they would not normally have in their everyday lives.  Science and nature books, historical fiction, stories about other countries and ways of life, and fantasies all help broaden readers’ understanding of the world.

In many cases, one or another of the five criteria are in tension with each other in assigning a star rating.  In making their selections, parents will need to weigh whether each book fits their own criteria.

Book lists are rated by three criteria:

  • Number of selections over a broad range of topics and genres;
  • Usability and level of detail provided for recommended titles; and
  • Correlation with star ratings I tend to give titles from the list.