HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Honey for a Teen’s Heart
Author: Gladys Hunt and Barbara Hampton
Publisher: Zondervan, revised edition in 2002
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: For parents in choosing good reading material for their children
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
For more information e-mail email@example.com
Hunt, Gladys, and Hampton, Barbara. Honey for a Teen’s Heart (revised edition published in 2002 by Zondervan). Several people have highly recommended Gladys Hunt’s Honey For a Teen’s Heart, so I purchased a copy of the latest edition. It is published by a well known religious publisher, Zondervan. Mrs. Hunt says, “Profanity and crude speech are in the air around us, and both are in books.” She then objects to it for two reasons, first that it is a misuse of the gift of language, and secondly that it demeans human life. I agree wholeheartedly! However, I must say that I was somewhat amazed that, while many good books are listed in this work, a lot of books that I consider pure and plain junk, sometimes because of the language, are recommended and even identified as essential reading for teenagers. Apparently, this was done to satisfy the following explanation. “Both sex and coarse language are issues that demand parent-teen discussion. If you avoid these subjects, what are you saying to your children?…Reading books together can introduce these subjects in the best possible way so that the discussion originates from the story and is thus less personal and less defensive. It shouldn’t surprise us that what is so obviously a part of our culture is also in books. The use of profanity and crude language is increasingly common in young adult literature [note: ain’t it the truth? WSW]….The reader needs to learn how to discern and how to reject. What should a parent do with bad language in culture and in books? One option is to react with horror and ban the book. That may keep a teen from reading the words, but it doesn’t take them out of his hearing in the culture. We need to talk about it openly….Maybe you are a parent who wants to exclude all reading except what you know is safe. That becomes more and more difficult as a child becomes a teen and moves further out of your control.”
I really do not wish to get into an argument with Mrs. Hunt, but I do have to make a few comments. Speaking for my own family, we have no intention to “avoid these subjects.” However, while I understand that as children grow older they do become more exposed to the evil that is in the world, and we as parents have the responsibility to prepare them for that experience, I still have trouble understanding the idea that we can do that by letting them read literature that is less than wholesome in its language and picture of life. I believe that we can discuss these subjects with our children without necessarily using those kinds of books. Mrs. Hunt did admit, “We reluctantly rejected several otherwise good books for our bibliography because of language that was pervasively foul, making it impossible to skip over it. In many cases, we try to warn you that language (or violence or improperly expressed sexuality) might be a problem in a particular book.” However, when I looked at her descriptions of several books that I have read and rejected as not being worth my time because of bad language, I saw no such warnings with them. So, I would hate to see a list of the ones that were rejected!
Mrs. Hunt also says, “We live in a fallen world. Good literature does not avoid that fact. But it does not revel in it either.” Unfortunately, there are some of the recommendations that Mrs. Hunt (and co-author Barbara Hampton) give that I personally believe do tend to revel in the fact that we live in a fallen world. Obviously, these are decisions that each family must make, and as noted earlier, different families will have different standards. Apparently, Mrs. Hunt’s standards are not quite the same as mine. That is all right, but I do get a little tired and somewhat irritated at people like Mrs. Hunt who like to use words like “censorship” and say that “young people are not helped by parents who react with shock and outrage” when all we are trying to do is make sure that the material which our children read does not contain “corrupt communication” but rather “what is good for necessary edification” (Ephesians 4:29). That will continue to be the standard in our home! This book is still a good resource for finding suitable reading material, but we shall continue to be cautious and careful.