Slice of Life Day 19 of 31: Journeys
I’ve always been fascinated by the ability of children’s literature to shape character and teach values. As a child, I was curious about those “bad troublemaker” characters and wondered what fate would befall them, and I evolved into a page turner with an insatiable desire to see how other people’s situations play out on the pages of books. Today’s efforts to ban books will, no doubt, prove a classic tale of be careful what you wish for – – you might just get it. And the unintended consequences that those pushing for bans never considered. When we take away books that allow children to learn through the stories of fictional characters, they will learn through the nonfiction stories and mistakes of their own.
But what bothers me almost as much is that the logic of this war on books doesn’t add up. I think of The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi as a prime example of secular literature that shares similarities with the Biblical story of Jonah. Both Pinocchio and Jonah found redemption in the belly of a whale. Both were having trouble listening and obeying (a prime reason that people want to ban any book these days – -because <dun dun dun> someone wasn’t being a “perfect Christian”). The radical banning clan is quick to want to erase secular books like Pinocchio for disobeying Gepetto, yet quick to validate the consequences of disobeying that Jonah suffered by not going straight over to Ninevah.
I mourn the loss of classic literature and its threatened extinction from childhoods of today. The common threads of literature throughout the world carry similar messages and common values in different settings and stories – there are Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood stories in almost every culture of the world. Books teach lessons and build character, and they offer readers a glimpse into the troubles of the world that might be avoided by learning from characters who just might offer a child a voice of reason he hears more clearly than that of his parents.
Books reinforce values and teach lessons that we cannot possibly teach. We should expect that the nose of Pinocchio grows – – and as it does, we should suppose that the nose of Pinocchio shows.
Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.