Trivium Pursuit

Reading Aloud and Evolution

Hello Laurie,

In the book Hand That Rocks the Cradle, the book Rascal by Sterling North was a recommendation. When I saw Rascal on audio book at my local library I checked it out. We have listened to the whole thing and really enjoyed the story — it’s a great one for boys. Now, in the story, there were a few mentions of things such as “millions of years” and “will my raccoon become a human?” and mention of astrology, etc…. Anyway, I am sure those are some of the best reasons not to allow audio books to replace reading aloud, where you can catch these things beforehand and be prepared. What I am emailing for is guidance in how you dealt with these things when your children were VERY young. I suppose I do understand how such mentions can be used as a learning tool through conversation with the child. But I feel a bit intimidated in trying to explain this to a 4-year-old, who frankly doesn’t even realize anything about evolution yet to begin with. Do I say anything? Do I wait until he asks? Or does that end up planting seeds that will be harder to purge later if not addressed now? L. D.

I found that once you get good at reading aloud, you can pretty easily detect when something controversial is coming up, and you can either choose not to read it, or else read it and then comment if needed. I never had a problem with going ahead and reading aloud references to evolution. In our family, we were always quite open on the subject — we taught our young children what we believed the Bible says about origins (creation) and what we believed to be false (evolution), so that when they were confronted with the topic in the course of everyday living, they would know how to think about it and respond to it. I don’t consider evolution to be a taboo subject, but would treat it the same as if you were reading aloud a story about how they used to “bleed” people years ago in order to cure diseases.

So when you read aloud or heard on tape “will my raccoon become a human?” in the book Rascal, you stop and chuckle and lightly comment on how silly that is because we all know that God made man and animals different, and that a raccoon can never become a man. Then perhaps later that evening when Daddy is home, you can ask the 4-year-old to tell Daddy about that funny thing we read about in Rascal, and maybe, if Daddy is able, after working ten hours in the hot sun shingling a customer’s roof, he can expound on the scientific reasons why it truly is silly to think that a raccoon can become a human.

But references to astrology, drug use, abortion, sexual situations, witchcraft and other such topics I would handle differently. I would skip reading aloud those types of references in books, depending on the age of the children and the topic, and if I suspected that those topics would come up in a recorded book we were listening to, then I probably wouldn’t use that particular recording till all my children were of an age I thought appropriate. You would have to use your own judgment on that since you alone know your child best.

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