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Stories for Children
by Matt Bynum

Children need more than modern day amusements provide

There is certainly no lack of toys, books, television programs and recordings marketed specifically for children. Just take a look at the local toy superstore, the children's section of the local bookstore, Saturday morning cartoons and children's cable television channels. And then there is the pop music of today, currently dominated by Britney Spears, the Back Street Boys and the like. Anything to keep the kids amused! But what children really need is much more than these amusements can give.

A teenager, according to general consensus, becomes an adult at age eighteen. A group of eighteen year-olds is presented before us, and we can not deny that these individuals are very adult-like, some of them being tall and lithe, others muscular and stout, and others possessing radiant beauty. We extend to this group our best wishes, fully expecting them to march forth and conquer the world. But in this regard, we should prepare ourselves for disappointment. For what we see before us may be adults in the physical sense, but judging them according to the stature of their inner selves and the strength of their character, many of them belong still in the nursery.

Just as a child's physical form matures, growing in stature, adding muscle, developing coordination, gracefulness and athleticism, so should the child's inner form mature, gaining knowledge, developing wisdom, foresight, wit, goodness, and all else needed to face the difficult challenges that modern life presents. The inner form needs nourishment so that it will grow strong, and the nourishment that it needs can not be provided by the amusements of the day.

The child needs to learn to see beyond Today. The child needs to be guided in an examination of Yesterdays and a perception of Tomorrows. The child needs to hear of the history of nations, of Mankind's progress and all that is good throughout the Creation, and also of Mankind's many failings, of the devastation caused by Mankind's wrongdoing, and of God's Providence.

What children need are Stories, tales of mythical places, stories of heroes, of excitement and danger, tales of courage. Whether these Stories were written yesterday or centuries ago, these Stories are timeless, being both Old, rooted in the ancient truths, and New, shining forth brightly to illuminate the future. It is well known that children have an unquenchable desire to understand "why?", and those that seek will find the clues to the answers, for the Stories will guide them.

It is, of course, from the Scriptures that the Master Story is told, through the lives of those that lived long ago, and through parables. The Scriptures are the wellspring from which all other Stories flow, through the history of nations and cultures, and through our very own lives. The Stories provide us a framework, holding all the seemingly unrelated events of our lives together.

The Stories provide preparation not only for this life, but for the next. From The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, "All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

Resources

If you are a story writer, or know that you will become one, you need to be familiar with the Stories that have already been written - otherwise known as the "Classics". See below for suggested readings from the Classics. One day, perhaps your story will be be added to this list.

A Journey of Souls, a new book by C.D. Baker, tells the story of the thirteenth century Children's Crusades. "This heart-wrenching, nearly forgotten misadventure is now told through the lives of a brave band of these 'Innocents' and Pieter, their wily priest. Their inspiring march of faith through the perilous world of medieval Europe leads them through confusion, shame and despair until their sufferings deliver them to discover what they did not expect." See http://www.prestonspeed.com/CDBaker.html .

The Starman series is a new set of science-fiction books. Its authors "intend to produce stories which encourage the human mind and spirit; extol the virtues of courage, honesty, and good-heartedness; and whose characters follow a philosophy that life is good, the creation is exciting as well as beautiful, hope is reasonable and worthwhile, and the spirit of adventure is worth pursuing." See http://www.starmanseries.com.

Everyman's Library ( http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/classics) offers a good selection from the Classics in a set of inexpensively priced high-quality hardbound books.

Naxos Audio Books ( http://www.naxosaudiobooks.com) offers spoken word recordings of Classic literature enhanced with Classical music.

Tale Spinners For Children was a series of LP (vinyl records) recordings produced in the 1960's. The earlier entries were superb, featuring a cast of professional actors, with the stories enhanced by classical music selections. Most notable were the recordings of William Tell, Aladdin and His Magic Lamp (nothing at all like the Disney version of the story!), and the Pied Piper of Hamlin. The exquisite voice of Denise Bryer was featured on many of the earlier recordings.

Suggested Reading from the Classics

Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain)
Aesop's Fables
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
Anderson's Fairy Tales
Animal Farm (George Orwell)
The Arabian Nights
Black Beauty (Anna Sewell)
Call of the Wild (Jack London)
The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis)
The Enchanted Castle (E. Nesbit)
Five Children and It (E. Nesbit)
Grimm's Fairy Tales
Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)
In Freedom's Cause (G.A. Henty)
The Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling)
Just So Stories (Rudyard Kipling)
Kidnapped (Robert Louis Stevenson)
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Washington Irving)
Lilith (George MacDonald)
Little Men & Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Much Ado About Nothing (William Shakespeare)
Out of the Silent Planet (C.S. Lewis)
The Place of the Lion (Charles Williams)
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
The Prince and the Pauper (Mark Twain)
Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe)
Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)
The Secret of Father Brown (G.K. Chesterton)
Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
The Story of King Arthur (Howard Pyle)
The Story of the Treasure Seekers (E. Nesbit)
Swiss Family Robinson (Johann David Wyss)
The Thirty-Nine Steps (John Buchan)
Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson)
The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame)

Last updated: 12 April 2006
Updated by: Matt Bynum