March 5, 2020

Recently, a friend asked me for a list of pro-life children’s books. I immediately drew a blank—and then ideas flooded my brain. But not ideas for books that have an obvious bent toward life-affirming ideas. Instead, I thought of books, movies, and TV shows that had stirred life conversations with my students and family. I realized that I could view many books as “pro-life” that others would not, simply because I was looking at every piece of media as something to be consumed through a “For Life” worldview lens. And that can’t be put into a simple list. Instead, let me explain it a bit.

When I read a picture book, I look at the illustrations and notice the value of the humans (or animals with human qualities). Many books show the value of babies before they’re born because we anticipate them being cute newborns. I go beyond the potential cute factor and point out the humanness of the baby and how God values them when they are not yet born as much as when they are grown up. Children readily agree, and the idea of caring for unborn babies as much as born babies is an important concept for all people.

Many picture books and chapter books these days focus on human rights and social justice. I read those and confirm that all humans are loved equally by God, no matter their race, their job, their gender, or their age. That love leads us to action. When we believe in caring for the unborn, the disabled, and those nearing death, we may find ourselves wanting to change laws and hearts to see their value. That is a Christian worldview that many can understand.

I watch for little sayings in picture books because picture-book authors choose every single word with care. I watch for themes in novels and movies, and I point them out or help students notice them as well. I can see when the student understands. But then I may take it a step further. I share how the concept has shown up in my life or the community around us. Then the child has a more personal understanding. As they keep reading  or watching, they really feel like they are experiencing what is happening in the movie or book and see how it relates to their worldview.

Sometimes what we read or watch may have a contrasting worldview. It could be one choice a character makes, how they live, or how a bad situation has encouraged them to continue in poor choices. Often I turn it off, but sometimes I use it as a discussion point. When the child realizes that we all have choices, including sinful ones, then he can also see that we have consequences. We may talk about the commandments, God’s will for us, free will, and consequences. That’s a life lesson we all learn, so why not guide them through it by watching or reading about someone else? It can give them some foundational thinking for the future.

As parents, relatives, friends, and teachers, we have opportunities to speak into the lives of the young people around us. I caution you not to make every single book, movie, or TV show a morality lesson. Youth and students will tune you out or avoid you, if you do. But do speak up, especially when your worldview lesson is Gospel-motivated. Learning that God forgives and loves each one of us is something that we can never hear too often.