on January 25, 2000
Honey for a Child's Heart is an outstanding guide to fine children's literature. Though Ms. Hunt writes from the perspective of a dedicated Christian, as a non-Christian parent I did not feel the least uncomfortable with her expression of her views. The subtitle of the book "the Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life" is really the major focus of the book. Recognizing good literature, and incorporating it into one's home life is a value which transcends a specific religious point of view. The author's chapter on What Makes A Good Book will be invaluable to parents attempting to locate books which will stand the test of time from among the mind-boggling swarm which one meets in any children's book section. The books highlighted for discussion by Ms. Hunt are from a broad range of authors including Kenneth Grahame, Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Emily Dickenson, James Thurber and Miriam Cohen. The bibliography, comprising approximatley one-third of the book, is one of most complete guides to quality children's literature available anywhere. I pack this book with me to libraries and bookstores when I'm selecting children's books. No parent who wishes to introduce their children to fine literature and/or create a reading centered environment in the home should be without this book!
on June 5, 2003
I love books and could just kick myself for not having gotten this sooner. I found her chapters on the philosophy of reading, types of literature, etc. VERY thought-provoking and inspiring (as well as confirming of some things I already thought!). She brought some balance to issues many parents face, especially if you are homeschooling or have bright/advanced children. For instance, I tend to read my girl things I like, but that meant I was not bringing her home books on her emotional level to broader her experience in those things. Hunt tells a story of a girl she knew whose parents did this and the result was the girl was disconnected from kids her own age; she needed to learn the simple lessons and values in those kids books even if she could sit still and listen to longer books or read harder books beyond her years. So my daughter and I have been having fun going back through the library and finding the books listed... We've found some new favorites too! You definitely don't want to miss this book!
on April 9, 2002
In this book, the author writes about what makes a book a good book and why reading to oneself and why reading aloud is important and then provides a long bibliography of recommended books. What makes this book special and different from other books (i.e. "Read Aloud Handbook") is that this book is completely family focused. It is written for an intended audience of parents and stresses using reading as an important activity that bonds families together.
Hunt feels that good books feed the soul, teach values, and build character. When one connects with a character emotionally, lessons will naturally be learned from reading the story and getting to know and love the characters. Only good books fit the bill for nourishing the soul, only good books provide "honey". Hunt quotes Eric Fromm, who wrote that he feels that children need "milk" and "honey" to thrive: the milk is the parent providing for the child's physical needs, and the "honey" is the "sweetness of life, that special quality that gives the sparkle within a person". Hunt and Fromm agree that only a minority of children are receiving "honey" from their parents, a parent must first love honey and have it to give, and that not every parent has it to give. Hunt feels that "good books are rich in honey".
There are 124 pages of discussion about good books and the value of selecting good books. Good books make children wonder, laugh, and that contains spiritual, emotional, and intellectual dimensions. There is not much dedicated to selecting books for toddlers and preschoolers although there are plenty of books for that age range in the book list. Unlike other books, this is purely opinion and the author does not spend time discussing results from studies about reading aloud. This book does not discuss issues such as problems that schools have with teaching reading or dealing with children who are not read to, or discussing problems with illiterate children and adults, or other societal educational matters-this book is focused on the family unit and speaks to parents about using reading and books to enrich the lives of their children.
Not a lot of time is spent talking about what makes a bad book, and specific examples are not given of bad books. I was a bit disappointed that the issue of guns and violence in books for preschoolers was not mentioned. Hunt does discuss negative content in books for upper elementary grades and teens. Hunt states it is a bad idea to fashion stories around common life problems for the sake of dosing up the books with realism: no matter how sad or pointless it is. To inject these negative issues in a manner that leaves the reader feeling sad and hopeless accomplishes nothing positive, and only serves to squash the child's spirit. Hunt states that it is now common for books to feature rape, sexual problems, and illicit drug and alcohol use.
Hunt is Christian and evidence of this is speckled here and there but I don't think it will be offensive to non-Christians. There are 12 pages dedicated to a chapter about reading aloud from the Bible as a daily family experience.
This edition contains 85 pages of book lists. The books are first divided into three age ranges, then by type such as picture book or series. From there the books are arranged by complexity of content, and then alpha by author. There is an index by author name only. Trying to look up a single book title to see if Hunt recommends it is not possible. Some of the entries contain no description, most contain one sentence description, and some contain 2 or 3 sentences for a description. This book lists contain works of fiction, not non-fiction such as books about trains or other "real" things that young children do love to read about-there are plenty of other ways to find those books, though.
I loved that Hunt brings into the discussion, the role of family and creating a safe and comfortable home for the child. There is a chapter about influences in the child's life: good and bad. Television is discussed, very lightly, for its problems such as helping contribute to short attention spans in preschool aged children, squelching creativity, and that the violent content of many shows and evening news programs does nothing but corrupt the soul. Good books are often translated into movies (Disney and such) but rarely compare to the quality and depth as the story as told in the book version. Hunt basically cautions to selectively watch TV but to make sure children get a daily dose of reading good books rather than spending valuable time sitting in front of poor content television shows and commercials. There are other books on the market that cite the studies and discuss the problems with television such as "Endangered Minds", if that is something you are interested in learning more about.
I love that Hunt is writing about the importance of family life and the value of reading as a family bonding experience, rather than the more common urging of parents to read anything at all to their children just so they would be interested in reading when the time comes to teach them to read. I am sick of hearing that parents should read anything, anything at all, to their children as a way to interest them in reading-I believe that content does matter!
Hunt's analysis of what constitutes a good book and her urging to use books to elevate the child's spirit is refreshing to read about. Hunt writes with clarity and this book is quick read but the important message will stay with you and inspire you. This book would make a great gift for new parents or grandparents; it makes an easy "wish list" to use as a buying guide. The price of this book is inexpensive and will save you time searching for good books in the library or bookstores, and it will save you money when you are buying books so I recommend it for every parent and grandparent.
on November 17, 2000
The subtitle of this book says it all: "The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life". Gladys Hunt will promote the imaginative use of books in your family in two ways, corresponding to the two halves of this book. In the first half of this book, Hunt shares her insights and ideas about the value of reading, the usefulness of different genres, her notions about what makes a good book, and useful guidelines on how to select good books. Unfortunately, Hunt does not always express her thoughts and ideas in a completely coherent manner, but it would be a serious mistake to avoid this book for that reason. What she does have to say is earnest, sincere, passionate, and incredibly valuable. In the course of her sometimes unstructured ramblings, Hunt passes on many valuable insights about reading, such as the value of fantasy and poetry, and the positive contribution books can make in a child's life in contrast to the negative influence of the media. What I really treasured, however, were the multitude of practical hints about making books come alive in the home. Hunt offers terrific suggestions about reading stories out loud together as a family, and even shares worthwhile ideas to make family Bible reading more profitable. The first half of this book alone makes this book worth purchasing, because if you apply some of these ideas they are sure to make books come alive in your home.
But what really makes this book a treasure is the second half, which is an extensive annotated bibliography of books worth reading, arranged by their suitability for various ages. One might be tempted to quibble about a few favorite titles which have not been included, but you can't overlook the fact that this is a very comprehensive list that includes most children's classics and many more. Parents who truly enjoy literature often are faced with the challenge of finding good literature. Hunt makes this challenge a piece of cake, because here is a ready-to-use list of titles worth reading, an almost never-ending supply of books to keep your family busy nearly life-long. She has done the hard work for us - mined through the endless number of books on library shelves, and passed on to us what is truly the honey that is worth reading. As a Christian, Hunt is also very discerning and has a taste for what is truly good. Yet her Christian filtering is not so narrow minded that it excludes all secular classics or great works of literature. She has an appreciation for all literature that is quality literature, and so anyone who enjoys good literature will find her annotated bibliography most valuable.
In short, if you enjoy reading good books and want your children to do the same, then you cannot do without this book! The fact that this book is now in its third edition proves that many before me have found this book most useful. If you do not yet have a passion for good children's books, reading this book is sure to change that. And if you already have such a fiery passion, this book will only fuel that passion all the more. Come to think of it, I have to run: "Come on kids, we're going the library!"
on March 18, 2001
I bought this book with the intention of just learning how to pick out good books for our son but instead, what I received was truly words of wisdom in how we can really take care of my family. The author talks not just about reading books per se but of how to make them a way of living and enrichment for the entire family. Ms Hunt wisely includes a chapter on the influences in our children's lives and how we, as parents, should choose to be THE influence in their lives. Shared reading of really good literature empowers us to be able to do so and she also gives practical, down-to-earth advice on family bible readings, an oft neglected aspect in many of today's Christian families. I highly recommend this book for all parents who truly care about shaping their children's thinking and hence, their future.
on October 11, 1999
If reading with your children is important to you, this book will be very exciting. Mrs. Hunt's enthusiasm for children's literature is contagious; I couldn't put the book down! She creates an enviable list of the advantages a well-read child will gain. The book guides you in choosing books & in placing reading as a delightful priority in your & your child's day. While her recommended reading covers a broad spcetrum, her focus is narrow: developing a whole child. The whole child is grounded in God's Word &, with the example & encouragement of parents, is free to grow intellectually & emotionally. With so much information in an easy to read style, all I could ask for is a fourth edition!
on April 10, 2000
As an avid reader with children who share my love of books - I thought that I was not in need of a book about books - but this book truly reawakened a desire to share good literature with my children. I was truly grateful for the bibliography at the back - I made a trip to my favorite used book store that very evening - with the bibliography as my guide. I easily found books that I already knew were treasures - some old and some new "friends." I didn't have to waste my time or money on mediocre books. My thanks to Mrs. Hunt for this wonderful little book!
on November 1, 2003
I loved this book. The minute I finished reading her introductory chapters, I started at the beginning again, so I could underline her gems of wisdom. Not only did this book strengthen my resolve to continue reading good books to my children, it made me review the books I was reading, and make some changes. Ms. Hunt is thoughtful, and encouraging and gets her message across. Make time for books!! for yourself, and your children. We're going to give this book as a gift to all our siblings with children, and as a shower gift from now on!
on December 5, 1999
This really is a wonderful book. It is a pleasure to read and is beautifully written. This first part of the book explains the importance of reading wholesome books to foster moral development. It contains a great bibliography of wholesome books for children. I bring it to the library with me all the time. It makes choosing appropriate books so much easier. I plan on buying this book for my one year old nephew for Christmas. It's a great book new parents.
on August 8, 2003
This book goes a long way in helping parents to understand how very important it is for us to read to our children. Aside from the academic benefits, there are so many bonding moments and moments that draw families closer together.
An added jewel is the booklist that is in the back. I keep this book with me when I go to the library so that I can choose the best books for my kids to read.