Children's Literature

Friday, May 29, 2015


Children's literature will have a special place in my heart as long as I'm on this earth. There's nothing like a story that takes you somewhere and teaches you something in just a few minutes. Great illustrations are a bonus that really help to draw you in. When I was growing up it was my Mom who fostered my love of books. Even when I had no idea how to read, I would ask any willing adult to read to me and correct them if they tried to skip pages or got something wrong.

When my younger brothers and sister came along, I was more than happy to read to them. I wanted to be sure that they all knew how great it is to have someone give you their undivided attention as they shared a story with you. 

My love for children's literature started when I was very young and it continues today. When I found out about the opportunity to review a copy of this Andy Andrews' latest book, "Henry Hodges Needs A Friend", I was eager to take part! 

Unfortunately, I need to tell you that I was disappointed. As children's literature goes, my expectations are high. I believe that children should be exposed to books that are going to influence them in positive ways. This particular book is about a boy named Henry who is lonely. His parents decide to solve the problem by taking him to the shelter to get a dog. I really enjoyed the process of joining Henry as he imagined what kind of pet his parents would be getting him as well as the pages dedicated to their trip to the shelter.

Andrews had great intentions with this book and there is no doubt that it would draw pretty much any child right in. The illustrations are engaging and the story itself has a nice flow to it. Some parents would object to Henry's personality. He is lonely and bored and has a poor attitude about EVERYTHING in his life. For me, I think I would be willing to use that as a discussion piece. 

My problems come in with Henry's parents and the dose of theology that Andrews includes. You finish the book feeling like you're special and because you're special you'll get special things. That was the reason why Henry's parents wanted to get him a "one-of-a-kind" pet. BUT, we all know that that's not how it always works out. Some children never do get what they "need" or even NEED. Does that mean that God isn't there or doesn't care or _____? Absolutely not! But, books like this could be super discouraging and possibly even damaging to a child who is faced with a life like that. 

So...Overall, this isn't a book that I would recommend. The premise of a boy learning to BE a good friend is fantastic, but that isn't the focus that Andrews chose to take. If he had left God out of it, I probably would have been willing to share this book, but I just can't promote something that could change the way a child thinks about God in a way that will cause them to doubt Him.

What is your criteria for children's literature?

Do you have a favorite children's book? 

* I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own honest opinion.


  1. i love kids' books, too! and i'm always mentally critiquing them as i read them to kids (like the one about the girl who doesn't like green beans so she grows stripes? it has such potential for a "do what you enjoy!" ending and instead it's way dumber. this would make more sense if i remembered the title/more of the details, but i was so disappointed that i immediately pushed it outta my brain haha.)

  2. Wow, that sounds like a terrible way to share why they're getting the kid a pet. The "you're so special" things really needs to die out; it's making young adults struggle to understand why they aren't handed everything in life already, so why are we still pushing this "everyone gets a trophy" thing? And yes, what about the kids who don't get special things. I have a problem with classrooms discussing "what Santa brought you" or "what did you do on summer vacation" when some kids get nothing and nowhere while others excitedly talk about their XBoxes and trips to Disney. I think our generation has learned from our own "special" upbringings and will change the conversation for our kids. At least, I hope.

  3. Oh man, that book does sound a bit disappointing! I'm pretty critical of kids books too…I think it's so important to use their reading time as an opportunity to teach principles and values. My Mom used to read us Janette Oak (sp?) books…on man, if we weren't sensitive enough already, those books did the trick. She left nothing out in the way of emotional language! My favourites were anything by Robert Munsch, and You Are Special by Max Lucado (it teaches that you're special in that you're made and loved by God, and what people think of you doesn't determine your value.) What are some of your favourites?

    1. I'm with Jayda about some of these favorites! And I also want to hear about some of the children's books you DO like!


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