Parents, Watch Out for These Bad Reading Materials!

Bookstores, school and local libraries, online stores, and even websites offer a wide range of reading materials for kids’ learning and enjoyment. This convenience is not enjoyed by past generations. However, this easy access also poses risks to children’s exposure to materials that may not necessarily be good for them.

Not every reading material is good, says Roella Ann Salape, or Teacher Ella, an educator for 13 years. According to her, “it is my work to create a learning environment where kids can reach their utmost potential, and reading is an integral part of this work.”

According to Teacher Ella, there are four categories of reading materials that are bad for kids:

Is There Such a Thing as a Bad Read for Kids?

Poorly Written Materials

Published materials should have at least been screened through editing and proofreading for them to become readable. Errors in grammar, spelling, and mechanics should have been eliminated because they will confuse young learners, and will make them think these are acceptable.

“Most of these are online reading materials. I’ve seen them on some blogs and other free online reading sites. Poorly written stories can also be considered ‘bad,’ especially if the plot, characterization, setting, and theme developments are badly written,” Teacher Ella says.

<em><strong>Expert Tip from Teacher Ella: This group of bad reading materials can always be used for good by creative educators and parents. Teachers like me can use them for activities like identifying errors, which can also benefit learners. Parents may use these materials to help their children distinguish good from bad narratives.</strong></em>

Sources of Misinformation and Disinformation

Every reading material that “spread lies, fake news, misinformation, and disinformation” is bad reading material. Some children, without proper processing from parents, teachers, and guardians, would easily believe what they read.

Teacher Ella emphasizes, “Sadly, they are everywhere and can be easily accessed by kids nowadays because they are digital natives. These are part of their lives now. It’s really bad if kids consume these kinds of reading materials, as they can be easily deceived, and unlearning would be more difficult.”

<em><strong>Expert Tip from Teacher Ella: Spend time reading stories with them. It’s a good bonding moment. We need to have lots of time to discuss with them what they are reading. My 11-year-old daughter loves to read, and she also likes sharing the story with me, especially what she loves about it. Children will imitate fictional characters. They will have favorite characters. It is important that we know who these characters are because, by doing so, we will also understand our children better.</strong></em>

Materials Against Your Family Values

Parents and guardians raise children in their homes according to a set of beliefs and values. Reading materials that “might inculcate beliefs that are not aligned with family values” are considered bad.

<em><strong>Expert Tip from Teacher Ella: Parents must apply the same cautiousness and guidance that we do when preparing and cooking food for our kids to the reading materials that we allow them to read. Our roles as parents are not simply to provide for their basic needs and ensure their future success. Our role also entails character-building. To build kids with character, discernment is needed, and choosing good books for them is part of it.</strong></em>

Sources of Knowledge That Are Too Heavy for Children

According to Teacher Ella, there are books that contain information that is too heavy for children; worse, “they might cause irreparable damage to children and their relationships.”

“Some books might encourage them to experiment on dangerous and sinful things. I believe that books contain seeds that plant ideas in the minds and hearts of our children, and not all seeds are good for them. Some seeds are poisonous, and some grow into plants that have poisonous roots and fruits. Without the proper guidance from educators and parents, bad reading materials like these can cause harm to children’s future and mental health,” Teacher Ella shares.

To illustrate this, she shares an excerpt in the book “The Hiding Place,” where Corrite Ten Boom wrote about this experience with his father, Father Ten Boom:

“And so, seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sexsin?”

He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise, he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor, and set it on the floor.

“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

“It’s too heavy,” I said.

“Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

― Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom

<em><strong>Expert Tip from Teacher Ella: Parents cannot leave the teaching of good reading skills and strategies to their teachers alone. I strongly believe that there are evil people out there whose goals are to harm our children through information spread to them. It is our duty to protect them and to train them how to shield their minds and hearts from these bad reading materials.</strong></em>

Lastly, she shares that the wisdom from Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way they should go, so when he is old, he will not depart from it” offers “the best guidance for parenting, and it covers even the kind of reading habit we want for our children.”

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