Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

Here is a book I have around the house that I find is available as a free download at this site:

A Little Child Shall Lead Them:   Hopeful Parenting in a Confused World

It is written by Johann Christoph Arnold, who is a Bruderhof pastor, and the grandson of the founder of Bruderhof -- Eberhard Arnold.

I think I kept it around because I originally got it from a Catholic book company and it has a gentle, pastoral tone that attracted me.  It also has chapters on things you don't generally find in parenting books, like the Unborn Child, the Special Child (about disabled children), and Children and Nature.

I also like that it has a positive perspective on childhood.  Oddly enough, you can find some Christian parenting books that seem to regard children with suspicion as something like an enemy to be vanquished or a wild animal to be trained.  I have never understood this.  It must be a remnant of paganism.   But this book, though it takes seriously the necessity of instructing and forming the child, does so in a positive and respectful way (as the title implies).  

That being said, it's probably another one in the category of "not fully used" parenting books on my shelves.   Part of this is because there are some things in it that are unique to his way of life.    He will say something like "At the Bruderhof we...." (have many people involved in helping raise the children, or whatever) and it seems not to apply too much to the reality of my daily life.  

The other reason, I think, is because the format is one of short chapters only loosely connected.   So it reads like a series of columns or a sermon series.   For some reason, this format always makes it harder for me personally to get a lot out of a book.   I know lots of people really enjoy the "short meditation"  format because they can read a chapter in 10 minutes with their morning coffee or whatever.    But I like a book that builds momentum, and I like long chapters, because I read fast and a short chapter only takes about 3 minutes -- not even long enough for my brain to get warmed up.

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