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Suggested Reading - Children's Literature


The books listed here will help make clear what it is that good literature is meant to do and why what so often passes for literature these days fails to live up to that high calling.


  • Carlson, Jill. What Are Your Children Reading? An Alarming Trend in Todays Teen Literature. Brentwood, Tenn.: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991. [I recommend this book for its well-documented survey of the general situation in childrens fiction. Especially helpful is the chapter on parental strategies, What You Can Do.]
  • Carpenter, Humphrey. The Inklings: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and Their Friends. London: Unwin, 1998.
  • Chandler, Russell. Understanding the New Age. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1988.
  • Hitchcock, James. What Is Secular Humanism? Ann Arbor, Mich.: Servant Books, 1982.(offered on the CERC web site)
  • Hunt, Gladys. Honey for a Childs Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Books, 1989. [Generally reliable but with some reservations, as with Wilsons book, noted below. Hunt recommends L:Engle, Le Guin, and other questionable authors.]
  • Kilpatrick, Dr. William. Books That Build Character. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. [This book is valuable chiefly for its essays by Dr. Kilpatrick. The booklists at the end of the volume were not compiled by the author and contain recommendations for novels by LEngle, Le Guin, and other questionable authors.]
  • Kilpatrick, Dr. William. Psychological Seduction. Nashville, Tenn.: Thorns Nelson, 1983.
  • Lewis, C. S. Of This and Other Worlds. London: William Collins Co., 1984.
  • Medved, Michael. Hollywood vs. America. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
  • OBrien, Michael. Landscape with Dragons. Ignatius Press, (contains a marvelous 90 page recommended reading list for families compiled by Bethlehem BooksCERC).
  • Smith, Dr. Wolfgang. Cosmos and Transcendence. Peru, Ill.: Sherwood Sugden Publishers, 1984. [See the chapter The Deification of the Subconscious.]
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. Letters. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 198I.
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. The Silmarillion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977.
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. Tree and Leaf. London: Unwin, 1975. [Cf. the essay On Fairy Stories. ]
  • Vitz, Paul. Evidence of Bias in Our Childrens Textbooks. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Servant Books, 1986.
  • Vitz, Paul. Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1985.
  • Wilson, Elizabeth. Books Children Love: A Guide to the Best Childrens Literature. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1987. [This is a more or less reliable guide to literature for children and young adults, but I recommend it with some reservations. For example, Wilson sees no problem in Madeleine LEngles fantasy novels. ]


O'Brien, Michael. Suggested Reading. In Landscape With Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998), 169-170.

Reprinted by permission of Ignatius Press. All rights reserved. Landscape With Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind- ISBN 0-89870-678-5.

Chapter six of this book proceeds to analyse the best fantasy literature now available describing what it is that makes the work of J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, and George MacDonald so exceptional.

The Author

obrien13obrienftsmMichael D. O'Brien is an author and painter. His books include The Father's Tale, Father Elijah: an apocalypse, A Cry of Stone, Sophia House, Theophilos, Island of the World, Winter Tales, Voyage to Alpha Centauri, A Landscape with Dragons: the Battle For Your Child's Mind, Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture, and William Kurelek: Painter and Prophet. His paintings hang in churches, monasteries, universities, community collections and private collections around the world. Michael O'Brien is on the Advisory Board of the Catholic Education Resource Center. Visit his web site at:

Copyright © 1998 Ignatius Press
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