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How do you feel about magic in kids' books?
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How do you feel about magic in kids' books?
Never  
 6%  [ 2 ]
It's the best!  
 73%  [ 22 ]
Sometimes appropriate - explanation in the comments  
 20%  [ 6 ]
Total Votes : 30


Rappel




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:06 pm
Another poster recommended this site as a way to preview children's fiction

https://www.kosherbooks.org/book/61343

And it made me think about my stance on magical fantasy. The site reviewers are clearly perfectly fine with it.

For myself, I grew up reading everything I could reach on the library shelves, and fantasy was my favourite. But it made me wish for things which were far away from Judaism. As an adult, I'm not sure that the runaway use of imagination is healthy, and I'm not sure what I'll do when my kids become readers. I intend to provide a lot of fiction and history. Maybe I'm limiting them too much? Maybe I'm too open?

It's a real struggle for me. Literature was/is a huge part of my life. However, I don't think books like, say, The Golden Compass, would teach my children the values I want in their lives, even if I still have fond memories of the book.

What do you do in your household, and why?
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FranticFrummie




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:14 pm
Uncle Moishe does not actually live in your tape player, does he?

I always preview books. I love to read, so it's no trouble for me. I never had a problem with explaining things in age appropriate ways.

As for magic, kids naturally have a vivid imagination. It's just part of the important stage of learning fact from fiction. Trust me, when your kids get to understand the Torah better, you're going to face questions like "Did this really happen?" "How did it happen?" and the ever dreaded question "Is G-d magic?"

When your child's imagination gets away from them, and they start "telling stories" (which to you looks like straight up lying in your face!) you'll need to be prepared to talk to them in terms of facts, fiction, wishful thinking, and imagination.

It's not a sign that your child is about to go OTD. I means that they are highly intelligent and philosophical thinkers.

ETA: I would rather my child read Harry Potter any day, instead of the books that come from PJ Library. Most of them are SO problematical! I have had to throw almost all of them away. I only signed up in the first place because they were offering camp scholarships. It turned out that I ended up having to intercept the mail each month before DD could get ahold of the books.

Skip the scholarship, and find some other way to save a few extra dollars each month.
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amother




Aquamarine
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:22 pm
I love fantasy. I don't understand Rappel why fantasy has worse messages than any other genre?

I keep saying I'm going to write a frum fantasy book. With dragons and mermaids and it all. It's on my bucket list. Even if it doesn't ever make it to a store.
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Rappel




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:30 pm
FranticFrummie wrote:
Uncle Moishe does not actually live in your tape player, does he?

I always preview books. I love to read, so it's no trouble for me. I never had a problem with explaining things in age appropriate ways.

As for magic, kids naturally have a vivid imagination. It's just part of the important stage of learning fact from fiction. Trust me, when your kids get to understand the Torah better, you're going to face questions like "Did this really happen?" "How did it happen?" and the ever dreaded question "Is G-d magic?"

When your child's imagination gets away from them, and they start "telling stories" (which to you looks like straight up lying in your face!) you'll need to be prepared to talk to them in terms of facts, fiction, wishful thinking, and imagination.

It's not a sign that your child is about to go OTD. I means that they are highly intelligent and philosophical thinkers.


He kinda does Smile during one of my debates with Hillery, I did some research and found out that the Yalkut Yosef rules that music has been forbidden since the churban. The exceptions are weddings, seudot mitzvah, and songs which praise Hashem, until we rebuild the Beit Hamikdash. So I've been expanding my Jewish repertoire very rapidly.

-----
Imagination isn't the issue. I'm concerned about imagination as the Rambam defines it - where it's so far gone that it's destructive. When it pulls you away from wanting to engage in and invest in your real, wonderful life.

Of course at my kids' ages we have Dr Suess, Giraffes Can't Dance, etc.

But I didn't plan on bringing in books where people take up magic amulets to get spirited through time in order to fight evil sorcerers whom dine on the blood of small animals.

It doesn't add anything to their world -- or does it?

This is all very new to me.

----

And the questions and "stories" are already here Smile my 4 year old DS is asking me daily "what is Hashem?" He's not buying the idea of a non-corporeal, uncreatable, Source of all Creation. It's making for some very challenging discussions! I've never explained all this to a 4 year old before.
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zaq




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:36 pm
ITA with FF. Give kids credit for an ounce of brains. They know it’s make believe. And don’t you wish now and then for a magic wand that would clean the house, cook your meals and do your taxes, or a fairy godmother who would conjure up the perfect simcha dress and matching shoes? Yet you’re not OTD so
why do you think it’ll send your kids on the road straight to perdition?
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amother




Aquamarine
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:36 pm
Rappel wrote:
He kinda does Smile during one of my debates with Hillery, I did some research and found out that the Yalkut Yosef rules that music has been forbidden since the churban. The exceptions are weddings, seudot mitzvah, and songs which praise Hashem, until we rebuild the Beit Hamikdash. So I've been expanding my Jewish repertoire very rapidly.

-----
Imagination isn't the issue. I'm concerned about imagination as the Rambam defines it - where it's so far gone that it's destructive. When it pulls you away from wanting to engage in and invest in your real, wonderful life.

Of course at my kids' ages we have Dr Suess, Giraffes Can't Dance, etc.

But I didn't plan on bringing in books where people take up magic amulets to get spirited through time in order to fight evil sorcerers whom dine on the blood of small animals.

It doesn't add anything to their world -- or does it?

This is all very new to me.

----

And the questions and "stories" are already here Smile my 4 year old DS is asking me daily "what is Hashem?" He's not buying the idea of a non-corporeal, uncreatable, Source of all Creation. It's making for some very challenging discussions! I've never explained all this to a 4 year old before.


I learned that on imamother as well. What does reading Mishpacha add to your life? Then stories? Or reading the serials? Why is fantasy more destructive?

Serials seems to pull people in - the way frum people discuss books on here is not how we did in literature class. People talk about them like they are real people.
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amother




White
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:43 pm
amother [ Aquamarine ] wrote:
I learned that on imamother as well. What does reading Mishpacha add to your life? Then stories? Or reading the serials? Why is fantasy more destructive?

Serials seems to pull people in - the way frum people discuss books on here is not how we did in literature class. People talk about them like they are real people.

TONS of divrei torah, discussion on current events and different perspectives,interesting medical columns,inspiring articles about rebbetzins,gedolim and those who've dedicated their lives to help others, the serials often end up delving into a societal issue that makes people think and hopefully gain new perspective. So yea...not exactly vampires and flying dragons.
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Rappel




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:46 pm
zaq wrote:
ITA with FF. Give kids credit for an ounce of brains. They know it’s make believe. And don’t you wish now and then for a magic wand that would clean the house, cook your meals and do your taxes, or a fairy godmother who would conjure up the perfect simcha dress and matching shoes? Yet you’re not OTD so
why do you think it’ll send your kids on the road straight to perdition?


I'm really not worried about my kids going of the derech. Or, to be more correct, fantasy books are not a causative factor, IMHO.

I just know that I was completely absorbed in my fantasy worlds, to the point that I preferred them to real life. I invested nothing in my real life for years - I just made every effort to lose myself in the next book. Granted, life was pretty hellish. There were plenty of reasons for me to want to escape - but I could have made an effort, could have worked on making real life more livable.

So I guess I don't know what's normal. I'm thinking all this through as I'm typing on this thread.

For example: if my kids read a pirate book, but then build a treehouse with their friends so they can have a pirate ship, then I'm happy.

If they are just buried in their books, and they're reading books which add value to their lives, then I'm happy.

But what about books which teach nothing of value? No Jewish moraIs, nothing about nature or science or history - is there worth to that too?
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ChanieMommy




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:50 pm
Fiction is fiction...

Do you know how Elif Shafak got the better of the Turkish government?

In Turkey it is forbidden to say that the genocide of Armenians in 1912 was a genocide.

She wrote it in a book,and, of course, they filed a complaint against her.

But, what had she done? In her book, a djinn said that the armenian genocide was a genocide...

So in court, she argued that Djinns don't exist, and therefore the whole thing was fictional and she had not said anything... and she won...
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Rappel




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:50 pm
amother [ Aquamarine ] wrote:
I learned that on imamother as well. What does reading Mishpacha add to your life? Then stories? Or reading the serials? Why is fantasy more destructive?

Serials seems to pull people in - the way frum people discuss books on here is not how we did in literature class. People talk about them like they are real people.


Ah, well. Forgive me, but I don't bring in Mishpacha, Ami, or anything similar. To me, they're not well written, and have about the same content value as Good Housekeeping.

I do keep a bunch of the old Zman periodicals. The early ones were very well researched.


Last edited by Rappel on Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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avrahamama




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:50 pm
Rappel wrote:
I'm really not worried about my kids going of the derech. Or, to be more correct, fantasy books are not a causative factor, IMHO.

I just know that I was completely absorbed in my fantasy worlds, to the point that I preferred them to real life. I invested nothing in my real life for years - I just made every effort to lose myself in the next book. Granted, life was pretty hellish. There were plenty of reasons for me to want to escape - but I could have made an effort, could have worked on making real life more livable.

So I guess I don't know what's normal. I'm thinking all this through as I'm typing on this thread.

For example: if my kids read a pirate book, but then build a treehouse with their friends so they can have a pirate ship, then I'm happy.

If they are just buried in their books, and they're reading books which add value to their lives, then I'm happy.

But what about books which teach nothing of value? No Jewish moraIs, nothing about nature or science or history - is there worth to that too?


I can't imagine a book that teaches nothing of value. A book about nothing? A frivolous book. Any book with characters, plot, etc. Must have some sort of takeaway. No?
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ChanieMommy




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:53 pm
I would not sacrifice the language skills children gain by reading...
I'd rather have them read whatever appeals to them than not reading...
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FranticFrummie




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 3:55 pm
Let's see - Golems, Lilith, shadayim, leviathans, The Angel of Death, nephilim... how do you explain these?

I understand having issues with a 4yo. It is totally age appropriate for kids this age to ask a million questions, and even to be confused about fantasy vs. reality. The things they see in their heads (monsters under their bed) are every bit as real as the challah on the table.

It's the parent's job to help them navigate this stage, and to reassure them what is real and what is imagination - without shaming imagination or making it seem "anti Torah".

I used to have a Pesach CD that DD hated. The stories of the plagues gave her terrible nightmares, and one day I found the CD with huge scratches gouged into it. She had "killed it" with a pair of scissors. I learned that I needed to sit with her and listen with her, so she could feel safe, and ask me questions when they came up. I did the same with cartoons and books, as well, from then on out.

When DD started kindergarten, she used to come home in tears, terrified of the weekly midrash. Seriously? Who thinks it's OK to teach a 5 year old about someone getting beheaded, and their head rolling into a grave? Can't they just focus on Noah's arc at that age? Banging head

The world is going to be full of confusing things, and a 4 or 5 year old is just starting to be aware enough to have all kinds of ideas whirling around in their little heads. It's not a matter so much of "magic or no magic".

The most important thing is that your child feels safe enough to ask you questions, and that you don't back down from strange ideas. YOU are your child's anchor, while they are discovering everything.

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amother




Royalblue
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 4:01 pm
None of the choices.

Never - I have no issues with it
It's the best! - no, whether a book is the best or even good has nothing to do with whether it's got magic in it
Sometimes appropriate - also no, it's not about appropriateness, but variety is good.
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Rappel




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 4:16 pm
FranticFrummie wrote:


The most important thing is that your child feels safe enough to ask you questions, and that you don't back down from strange ideas. YOU are your child's anchor, while they are discovering everything.



I guess I'm not communicating myself properly. I'll go off and think about this on my own.

One last stab -

I really am not worried about the books my 4 year old is reading, beyond basic good behaviours (and funnily enough, Lillith has not yet come up in any of their books. I think we're safe until it's age appropriate.)

I'm thinking more into the future - 10 to 14, let's say.

It's already basically assured that my eldest two children will be readers. They love their books more than any other toys.

So what books should I bring into my home?

In the end, I want them to grow up to be creative, social, active, problem-solving, handy, healthy Torah Jews. Their lives are great for that - their friends love building things and raising animals and planting trees. The Shabbat get-togethers are structured around tehillim, parsha, and other learning. The games they play in gan are a weird mix of firemen, cops and robbers, sailing ships, and the weekly Torah portion. None of their friends read English, and those that will learn English don't come from literary families, so the English-language books won't be a social point of contact.

I want their heroes to be Jewish leaders, not Harry Potter. I want them to go climbing cliffs with real compasses, not wish for an animal soul and a golden compass. I want them to think of melachim as the sentient energies of G-d, not as halos and fluffy wings.

And I also want them to have the gift of a rich literary education, which both expands the mind and sharpens the wit.

And when I looked at the list on KosherBooks.org, I realized that my list of relevant and okay was MUCH narrower than theirs. And I started to wonder if I'm making a mistake, being too rigid. So that's what I'm considering now.
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chanatron1000




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 4:20 pm
Magic in books doesn't bother me, but one common thing in fantasy and sci fi is that the kids in the story have a secret that they keep from everyone, including their parents. I wouldn't ban a book for that, but I think that the fact that it is so common in these books might not be good.
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youngishbear




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 4:27 pm
I like magic and fantasy, and I don't see it as a problem in general.

I would skip specific books that deal with avoda zara mythologies or other religious beliefs. I also had a problem with His Dark Materials because of the anti-religious aspect, rather than the magic. They were great books, though. Sigh.
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youngishbear




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 4:31 pm
chanatron1000 wrote:
Magic in books doesn't bother me, but one common thing in fantasy and sci fi is that the kids in the story have a secret that they keep from everyone, including their parents. I wouldn't ban a book for that, but I think that the fact that it is so common in these books might not be good.


Good point.

The incompetent or clueless parent figure is a common trope in media aimed at children and young adults. It has its place as a metaphor for the confusion and isolation of the maturation process, but it is not an outlook frum parents want to encourage.
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bigsis144




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 4:43 pm
I don’t know, but I think about this too.

I’ve rewritten this post 2... 3... 4... a bunch of times, trying to sort out my thoughts:

I am absolutely a fantasy nerd. I taught myself Elvish from the appendices of Lord of the Rings as a teenager; I play Dungeons & Dragons with my sons and listen to podcasts of other people’s games; I read fanfic and meta-analyses of so many books; I go to the Renaissance Faire in costume. Nerrrrrd.

And I worry that, as harmless as these
behaviors are, how is it shaping my mindset? Should I be listening to divrei Torah while I wash dishes instead? How do I respond to my 8 year old who hears me talk about the Avoda in the Bais HaMikdash and he calls korbanos “savage and barbaric” because the only other frame of reference for animal sacrifice they have is evil orc rituals?

As an adult, I don’t want to live in Middle Earth or Faerun or whatever, and I think most well adjusted people don’t feel that way either.

I could give you a thousand reasons that fantasy is “good for you” - it can be a metaphor for so many different larger “real life” issues. Great magical power won’t solve all your problems — usually the solution is teamwork or ingenuity or hard work.

I think I’m rambling, but I’ll just post now and leave other thoughts for later. I’ll be back


Last edited by bigsis144 on Thu, Oct 22 2020, 4:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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shabbatiscoming




 
 
 
 

Post Thu, Oct 22 2020, 4:46 pm
We were allowed to read whatever we brought home from the library. We allow the same for our daughter.
I love reading and think it is so important to read a variety of types of literature, to broaden one's mind.
My daughter loves fantasy books. I think its great. She knows its not real. I dont see any issues at all.
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