Should children be allowed to read anything?

I have to admit I struggle with the idea of setting no limits on what we read in order that truth might manifest itself in the very abundance and depth of our reading (an idea proposed first by John Milton in “Areaopagitica” and later by Karen Swallow Prior in “Booked”). I hear that, but then my parenting radar kicks in. What about “garbage in, garbage out.” What about Paul’s warning in Philippians that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things”? I’m not taking black markers to my kids’ books (yet), but I’m also not saying, “Pick anything from the library and have at it.” Not only because I don’t want them exposed to pornography or abuse or foul language, but because I also don’t want them exposed to poor writing.

I don’t enjoy submersing myself in evil, either. Especially evil disguised as entertainment. I doubly do not want that for my children, especially as they are still under the umbrella of my protection (which I believe means physically, emotionally, and spiritually). I think there is a reasonable line between freedom of speech (and freedom to read) and defense against heresy (and reveling in evil). But where that line lies I think is a work of the Holy Spirit individually in each soul, and individually in each set of parents.

The man who blacks out his child’s book is ridiculed as an example of censorship; but the parents who allow their young children to submerse themselves in soft porn and drug usage are heralded as heroes. I think the line lies somewhere in between those two examples.


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