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What makes a book worth the read?

The beloved C.S. Lewis once said, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally worth reading at the age of fifty.” And Lewis proved the point in his epic Chronicles of Narnia series.

What makes a good book?  For through stories we are shaping a future.  Gladys Hunt in her book Honey for a Child’s Heart says this of good literature:

“Childhood is so brief and yet so open and formative that we must not neglect our responsibility to furnish it with what we know is good.  Impressions are taken into maturity; we are shaping a future. I cannot believe that children exposed to the best of literature will later choose what is cheap and demeaning.

A good book has a profound kind of morality- not a cheap, sentimental sort that thrives on shallow plots and superficial heroes, but the sort of force that inspires the reader’s inner life and draws out what is noble.  A good writer has something worthy to say and says it in the best possible way.  The author respect’s the child’s ability to understand.  Principles are not preached; they are implicit in the plotting of the story.”

A story is a powerful tool.  Fiction, as much as non-fiction, can teach us of our world around us, the people we want to emulate, and attitudes we want to shun.  To what treasures will we lead our children? With what great stories will we furnish their souls?