God wants your children to read.
Tackling Christian adolescent literature.
Adolescents simulate what they read
The United States has spent thousands of dollars on research and programs to keep young American’s healthy, active, and erudite. The educational system compels parents to team up with the YMCA or Scholastic programs to confront challenges like obesity and illiteracy. Government officials therefore claim ether gorging junk food or anorexic reading habits prove, “Children are what they eat”. An adolescent’s physical health is immensely important to strong development. However, in the area of encouraging good reading habits, mental or emotional well being can be ignored. Christian parents should be extra aware of the words their teens feed on. Parents must also consider, “Children are what they read”. Jesus exhorted in scripture,
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.'” Luke 4:4 NLT
The danger lies not in literature itself, but in the response and mindsets developed from the reading. Simply stated, what adolescents read will become a part of them. Narrative novels jump start a child’s mind to play out the scenarios of what they read. The idea of narrative works forming a simulation for the reader has a huge implication. It suggests the adolescent’s mind transcends into the book to vicariously live out the pursuits of the characters, therefore experiencing the characters emotions, negative or positive. Sharing in their actions and absorbing the hero or heroine’s choices or consequences. Authors are hailed for their ability to paint a simple scenario thus thrusting the reader to engage the written word.
Psychologist Keith Oatley, in the The Psychology of Fiction states,
“Even the word ‘fiction’ gives it away. It means something made, something made up.This view was widely held. Perhaps it still is. But it’s wrong. Narrative fiction isn’t a set of observations that are flawed by lack of reliability and validity. It’s a simulation. Narrative was the very first kind of simulation, one that runs not on computers but on minds. It’s a kind of simulation that enables us to enter social contexts that otherwise we would never know.
‘Many fiction writers are as scrupulous about getting their facts right as psychologists are when they write a paper. The central concern for fiction, however, is not to report such facts. That indeed is the province of science. It’s to invite readers to think and feel into the simulations they run as they read a story.”
Movies are simulations as well but are performed before its viewer. The person can be externally moved by observation. Movie goers may even identify with the challenges or undertones of a film, but they don’t have to become invested. A novel requires the reader to create the scenes and conflicts in their mind. The story is suggested by the author but designed and lived by the reader. Comprehension requires the private experiences, sensations, knowledge and imaginations of reader. The teen becomes ingrained personally woven into the literature. Regardless, the age of the reader it will be difficult not to interject themselves into the plot. They are invited to encounter moments submerged in things they can not appreciate or are not spiritually mature enough for.
It is not the literature, book or authors agenda to crawl into your teens psyche and plant subliminal messages. Most Christian or secular novelist today may be careless but they are not interested in creating a league of super naturalists. Most write for pure amusement and entertainment value. They create books based on demand, demand that boosts sales. It is the human mind of the reader which develops conceptual and theoretical beliefs that appeal against God, salvation, and humanity. An adolescent void of biblical principles has nothing to rely on other then the worldly problem resolution presented in the books they read. A child’s mind is like a sponge sopping up information by the bucket full, and parents should be diligent to help them process their reading from firm scriptural and spiritual reference points.
An article series examining the spiritual and social impact on Christian adolescent readers. These articles take a comprehensive dive into the issues of pop-culture mainstream novels. They will encourage and inspire parents and their adolescents to develop relationships based on reading and draw an outline for inspiring gospel truths and the need to read.
To read, Power of the Written Word on the Adolescent Mind Part 2 (click here)
If you like this series subscribe for FREE or check Monday July 11, 2011
Sorry, for the delay in the article series…Will be in California the Month of June, 2011. My Husband and I will be exploring the world of Christanity and meeting new nationwide ministries!