Gladys Hunt is right: kids don't stumble on great books by themselves, they read the titles they're given. Most adults discover books the same way, which is why she's written guides to help families choose only the best stories for their children and teenagers (as well as one for Christian women, Honey for a Woman's Heart).
These aren't simply book lists. Both Honey for a Child's Heart and Honey for a Teen's Heart are divided into two parts: the first discusses the importance of reading, various genres (science fiction, poetry, animal stories, etc.), the question of censorship, the elements of a good book, etc.; the second part offers extended book lists to direct you to the right titles for your family.
Part I of both books is equal parts information and encouragement. While Hunt identifies the two levels of reading (for the story, and for the ideas) and the place literature holds in the formation of good character and critical thinking skills, she also talks about how much fun it is to read good books, especially together as a family.
In Part II Hunt presents extensive lists of books. Each title is organized by age-level, genre and author, with a brief synopsis for each one. Honey for a Teen's Heart is more oriented toward students on their way to college, so the reading level is pretty high, but there's nothing most high schoolers won't be able to handle (thought parents will want to know some of the titles include fairly mature content).
Neither of these books are intended simply as "suggested entertainment," lists of books kids will enjoy. There is an emphasis on enjoyment, but there's an equally strong emphasis on reading for instruction and development. Hunt chooses books that will both delight and stretch readers, helping them to think clearly about themselves, the world around them, and God.
There are also a lot of books: over a thousand in Honey for a Child's Heart, and 400 in Honey for a Teen's Heart. No one will be able to read all the titles listed here; these are intended as general guides, not rigid models. There's no real curriculum element here, either—Hunt wants families to read because they want to and understand the benefits of good books, not because they must.
We decided early on at Exodus Books that we wanted a strong selection of quality literature for children. Honey for a Child's Heart was the first book we turned to, and it proved an immeasurable help. Whether you're a parent who wants to find great books for your kiddos but don't know where to start, or a veteran who's run out of ideas, these are some of the best available guides to building a reading list and library, and knowing how to make the very best use of them.
You'll find a good number of the books listed in Hunt's guides below. We're constantly working on expanding this section, so if you don't see a book she recommends let us know and we'll do our best to bring it in. As your kids make their way through these titles, be sure to discuss with them often, as the goal of reading is growth, not simply knowledge or fun. Gladys Hunt is a capable and enthusiastic guide, and we offer her books without reservation.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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