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Myers: Both true and fictional can be good

POSTED: July 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Chloe loves books. Every night before she goes to bed, Amy or I have to read to her. Sometimes, in the middle of the day, she comes to us with a book in her hand, begging us to read it to her.

We almost always do. As parents, we want to foster a love for reading in our children. After all, reading exercises the imagination. Reading helps build and strengthen a child's vocabulary. And when we're reading to Chloe she's not following us around the house, hitting us on the backs of our legs with a book while whining, "unh, unh, unh!"

The problem is, she's gotten to know the stories we're reading to her. If it's edging past her bed time and I skip a page or two, she knows it. If I try to paraphrase or abbreviate the story in an effort to move things along, she knows it.

She slaps her hand on the page to stop me. Then she makes me pick the story back up, making sure I read it in its entirety.

Truly, the time we spend together over an open book is time well spent. Which makes our choice in reading material all the more important.

There is some level of wisdom and virtue that one can attain from reading the likes of Dr. Seuss. He tells vivid stories, full of fantastical creatures. Many of his stories have a moral, which is expressed in terms that even the youngest of children can grasp.

The stories of Dr. Seuss, however, are fictional. One can look at the pictures or listen to the rhymes and know that the situations described are not real.

The Bible, however, is another story (no pun intended). The Bible is filled with exciting people and events. No matter the situation, a moral or spiritual truth is evident for the reader to learn.

But the greatest difference between children's books and the Bible is this: the events found in the Bible actually occurred. The Bible has historical accounts of real people who sometimes find themselves in fantastical situations. And the Bible contains the gospel message, which is the "power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16).

Now, don't get me wrong. There is definitely a place for the likes of Dr. Seuss. As a child, I loved the Grinch, the "Cat in the Hat" and reading about green eggs and ham. As a 37-year-old father of two, I still love them.

But I also know that "The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss" (I actually have a book by that title) isn't going to prepare my children for eternity. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ will.

So I'll read the silly story books with Chloe. But I'll also give them plenty of exposure to the true historical accounts found in the word of God.

Parrish Myers is pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church in Gainesville.



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