Some of you may have already heard that Gladys Hunt peacefully passed away at age 83 on July 4th. Her wonderful guide to children’s literature, Honey for a Child’s Heart, has been treasured by book-loving families ever since it was first published in 1969. Sarah and I both love the book; it is also one of the major influences on Aslan’s Library.
Honey for a Child’s Heart is a booklist book, yes, but it’s also much more than that. In the first half of the book Gladys wrote about the importance of books not just in the life of an individual child but also in the corporate life of the family. But even if you’re already a bookish parent of bookish kids, there’s still much that Honey has to offer. It’s a book worth re-reading every once in a while to remind yourself exactly why you take your kids to the library, read aloud after dinner, and buy books as birthday presents. Not only did Gladys encourage parents to find books that introduce a child to “the pleasure of words well chosen,” she also wrote that way, which makes reading her essays as enjoyable the fourth time as they were the first.
The second half contains book lists in a variety of genres. From board books to middle grade novels and everything in between, Gladys highlights the best of the best. After reading the first half of the book I found myself more than willing to embrace her book suggestions, and I’m confident that most of her readers feel the same.
Gladys wrote from a Christian perspective, but the scope of Honey for a Child’s Heart is much wider than Aslan’s Library. Although she does have a very good chapter on books to nourish children’s spiritual life, most of her recommendations are not theological – it truly is a fantastic guide to the entire world of kids lit. (In fact, Aslan’s Library began as a sort of extension of Gladys’ project: we were so inspired by what she had created in Honey that we wanted to emulate it in exclusively theological kids lit — both by compiling a reliable reference source and thinking well about the use of theological kids lit in family life.)
If you don’t already own Honey for a Child’s Heart, now is the perfect time to add it to your family’s library. It is certain to be one of Gladys Hunt’s most lasting contributions and I, for one, am very thankful for it.