Metamorphosis—changing into something you’re not—used to be seen as a damaging ordeal, but it is now depicted in many children’s books as an achievement to be celebrated. To guide children away from such destructive messages, parents can turn to the wisdom of old books that promote traditional accounts of selfhood.
Author: Rebekah Curtis (Rebekah Curtis)
A 1937 novel by Carol Ryrie Brink offers a feminine version of the popular “kids shipwrecked on an island” plot. The protagonists do not have to spear boars or devise a polis. Rather, they must show that they can live as women, taking care of the four babies shipwrecked with them. Can the girls make the most of the resources available to them, remain cooperative and kind to each other under tremendous strain, and prioritize the well-being of the vulnerable people entrusted to their care?
Beverly Cleary did not make Ramona a specimen of moral improvement, or a Christian evangelist. She made her a Christian child. Unlike Christian families today, however, Ramona’s family lives a world in which traditional morality is the cultural default. Going to church makes you normal, and practicing Christianity garners social rewards. Christian life simply means living.
I was looking forward to my one or two children, and a life of ongoing validation through the achievement-acclaim-advancement sequence to which school had accustomed me. Is large family life an icon of the Lord’s emptying of himself on our behalf? No more, I believe, than any Christian life deliberately modeled upon His example.