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Honey for a Child's Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life [Paperback]

Gladys Hunt
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 May 2002
Everything you need from how to choose good books for your children to encouraging them to be avid readers, this fourth edition also includes an indexed and updated list of the best children’s classics ever.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; 4th annotated edition edition (1 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310242460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310242468
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 18.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 302,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Author

There's got to be a reason a book is in its 50th printing!
This book is both motivational and informative. I wrote it to encourage parents to read aloud to their children -- and to keep on reading together long after children can read for themselves. Few things bind people together as much as sharing a good book. Without ever leaving your home, you can go on fantastic adventures, meet the same people, laugh at the ridiculous together, weep together over the plight of your favorite characters and learn life lessons from the bravery or foolishness of your main characters! Everyone who has ever read a ripping good story wants to share it with someone else. C. S. Lewis was right when he said that any book worth reading at 10 should be worth reading at 50. That means as you read with your children you get to catch up on all the stories you missed when you were growing up. Reading together gives you a reservoir of experiences from which to examine life and to figure out how to live it. And the bibliography at the end of the book introduces you to books your children should have the opportunity to read Take it to the library with you. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Family favorite now revised and updated, including an annotated list of books for ages 0-12

Everything parents need to know to find the best books for their children

Since its publication in 1969, this has been an essential guide for parents wanting to find the best books for their children. Now in its fourth edition, Honey for a Child’s Heart discusses everything from the ways reading affects both children’s view of the world and their imagination to how to choose good books. Illustrated with drawings from dozens of favorites, it includes an indexed and updated list of the best new books on the market and the classics that you want your children to enjoy. Author Gladys Hunt’s tastes are broad, her advice is rooted in experience, and her suggestions will enrich the cultural and spiritual life of any home.


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I'm going to play in the Hundred Acre Wood" said the small boy who lived at our house. Read the first page
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
The subtitle of this book says it all: "The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life". Gladys Hunt will promote the imaginative use of books in your family in two ways, corresponding to the two halves of this book. In the first half of this book, Hunt shares her insights and ideas about the value of reading, the usefulness of different genres, her notions about what makes a good book, and useful guidelines on how to select good books. Unfortunately, Hunt does not always express her thoughts and ideas in a completely coherent manner, but it would be a serious mistake to avoid this book for that reason. What she does have to say is earnest, sincere, passionate, and incredibly valuable. In the course of her sometimes unstructured ramblings, Hunt passes on many valuable insights about reading, such as the value of fantasy and poetry, and the positive contribution books can make in a child's life in contrast to the negative influence of the media. What I really treasured, however, were the multitude of practical hints about making books come alive in the home. Hunt offers terrific suggestions about reading stories out loud together as a family, and even shares worthwhile ideas to make family Bible reading more profitable. The first half of this book alone makes this book worth purchasing, because if you apply some of these ideas they are sure to make books come alive in your home.
But what really makes this book a treasure is the second half, which is an extensive annotated bibliography of books worth reading, arranged by their suitability for various ages (from books for the very young, to books for teens and adults).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful read 28 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this book to all parents who are serious about unlocking the joy of reading for their children. From the explanation of why reading and reading aloud together are necessary and worthwhile to the book lists for various ages and stages, this book is simply fabulous.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! 12 Sep 2011
By Jen
Format:Paperback
Fantastic to have a book which highlights other great books to help our children enjoy reading, whilst at the same time nurturing positive values for them. Very helpful having it split into different ages and different types of. Books eg bedtime, comedy, animals...
Thank you!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I have read with children in mind! 15 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gladys Hunt is a phenomenal author, well-read and sensitive to young people's interests.
She has much experience with her own children, with children in schools and young adults and
college students. She is an avid reader and book critique.
This book I devoured in a few days time.
I have read it through and am rereading it as I choose books for our daughter, my nephews, nieces
and Godchildren.
This is an excellent source. I have recommended it to many friends and will continue to do so!
Many thanks!
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  103 reviews
152 of 154 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family focused book about the value of reading 9 April 2002
By ChristineMM - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In this book, the author writes about what makes a book a good book and why reading to oneself and why reading aloud is important and then provides a long bibliography of recommended books. What makes this book special and different from other books (i.e. "Read Aloud Handbook") is that this book is completely family focused. It is written for an intended audience of parents and stresses using reading as an important activity that bonds families together.
Hunt feels that good books feed the soul, teach values, and build character. When one connects with a character emotionally, lessons will naturally be learned from reading the story and getting to know and love the characters. Only good books fit the bill for nourishing the soul, only good books provide "honey". Hunt quotes Eric Fromm, who wrote that he feels that children need "milk" and "honey" to thrive: the milk is the parent providing for the child's physical needs, and the "honey" is the "sweetness of life, that special quality that gives the sparkle within a person". Hunt and Fromm agree that only a minority of children are receiving "honey" from their parents, a parent must first love honey and have it to give, and that not every parent has it to give. Hunt feels that "good books are rich in honey".
There are 124 pages of discussion about good books and the value of selecting good books. Good books make children wonder, laugh, and that contains spiritual, emotional, and intellectual dimensions. There is not much dedicated to selecting books for toddlers and preschoolers although there are plenty of books for that age range in the book list. Unlike other books, this is purely opinion and the author does not spend time discussing results from studies about reading aloud. This book does not discuss issues such as problems that schools have with teaching reading or dealing with children who are not read to, or discussing problems with illiterate children and adults, or other societal educational matters-this book is focused on the family unit and speaks to parents about using reading and books to enrich the lives of their children.
Not a lot of time is spent talking about what makes a bad book, and specific examples are not given of bad books. I was a bit disappointed that the issue of guns and violence in books for preschoolers was not mentioned. Hunt does discuss negative content in books for upper elementary grades and teens. Hunt states it is a bad idea to fashion stories around common life problems for the sake of dosing up the books with realism: no matter how sad or pointless it is. To inject these negative issues in a manner that leaves the reader feeling sad and hopeless accomplishes nothing positive, and only serves to squash the child's spirit. Hunt states that it is now common for books to feature rape, sexual problems, and illicit drug and alcohol use.
Hunt is Christian and evidence of this is speckled here and there but I don't think it will be offensive to non-Christians. There are 12 pages dedicated to a chapter about reading aloud from the Bible as a daily family experience.
This edition contains 85 pages of book lists. The books are first divided into three age ranges, then by type such as picture book or series. From there the books are arranged by complexity of content, and then alpha by author. There is an index by author name only. Trying to look up a single book title to see if Hunt recommends it is not possible. Some of the entries contain no description, most contain one sentence description, and some contain 2 or 3 sentences for a description. This book lists contain works of fiction, not non-fiction such as books about trains or other "real" things that young children do love to read about-there are plenty of other ways to find those books, though.
I loved that Hunt brings into the discussion, the role of family and creating a safe and comfortable home for the child. There is a chapter about influences in the child's life: good and bad. Television is discussed, very lightly, for its problems such as helping contribute to short attention spans in preschool aged children, squelching creativity, and that the violent content of many shows and evening news programs does nothing but corrupt the soul. Good books are often translated into movies (Disney and such) but rarely compare to the quality and depth as the story as told in the book version. Hunt basically cautions to selectively watch TV but to make sure children get a daily dose of reading good books rather than spending valuable time sitting in front of poor content television shows and commercials. There are other books on the market that cite the studies and discuss the problems with television such as "Endangered Minds", if that is something you are interested in learning more about.
I love that Hunt is writing about the importance of family life and the value of reading as a family bonding experience, rather than the more common urging of parents to read anything at all to their children just so they would be interested in reading when the time comes to teach them to read. I am sick of hearing that parents should read anything, anything at all, to their children as a way to interest them in reading-I believe that content does matter!
Hunt's analysis of what constitutes a good book and her urging to use books to elevate the child's spirit is refreshing to read about. Hunt writes with clarity and this book is quick read but the important message will stay with you and inspire you. This book would make a great gift for new parents or grandparents; it makes an easy "wish list" to use as a buying guide. The price of this book is inexpensive and will save you time searching for good books in the library or bookstores, and it will save you money when you are buying books so I recommend it for every parent and grandparent.
64 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love good books? You need this one to help you find them! 17 Nov 2000
By Godly Gadfly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The subtitle of this book says it all: "The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life". Gladys Hunt will promote the imaginative use of books in your family in two ways, corresponding to the two halves of this book. In the first half of this book, Hunt shares her insights and ideas about the value of reading, the usefulness of different genres, her notions about what makes a good book, and useful guidelines on how to select good books. Unfortunately, Hunt does not always express her thoughts and ideas in a completely coherent manner, but it would be a serious mistake to avoid this book for that reason. What she does have to say is earnest, sincere, passionate, and incredibly valuable. In the course of her sometimes unstructured ramblings, Hunt passes on many valuable insights about reading, such as the value of fantasy and poetry, and the positive contribution books can make in a child's life in contrast to the negative influence of the media. What I really treasured, however, were the multitude of practical hints about making books come alive in the home. Hunt offers terrific suggestions about reading stories out loud together as a family, and even shares worthwhile ideas to make family Bible reading more profitable. The first half of this book alone makes this book worth purchasing, because if you apply some of these ideas they are sure to make books come alive in your home.
But what really makes this book a treasure is the second half, which is an extensive annotated bibliography of books worth reading, arranged by their suitability for various ages. One might be tempted to quibble about a few favorite titles which have not been included, but you can't overlook the fact that this is a very comprehensive list that includes most children's classics and many more. Parents who truly enjoy literature often are faced with the challenge of finding good literature. Hunt makes this challenge a piece of cake, because here is a ready-to-use list of titles worth reading, an almost never-ending supply of books to keep your family busy nearly life-long. She has done the hard work for us - mined through the endless number of books on library shelves, and passed on to us what is truly the honey that is worth reading. As a Christian, Hunt is also very discerning and has a taste for what is truly good. Yet her Christian filtering is not so narrow minded that it excludes all secular classics or great works of literature. She has an appreciation for all literature that is quality literature, and so anyone who enjoys good literature will find her annotated bibliography most valuable.
In short, if you enjoy reading good books and want your children to do the same, then you cannot do without this book! The fact that this book is now in its third edition proves that many before me have found this book most useful. If you do not yet have a passion for good children's books, reading this book is sure to change that. And if you already have such a fiery passion, this book will only fuel that passion all the more. Come to think of it, I have to run: "Come on kids, we're going the library!"
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get it! 6 Jun 2003
By liz976 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I love books and could just kick myself for not having gotten this sooner. I found her chapters on the philosophy of reading, types of literature, etc. VERY thought-provoking and inspiring (as well as confirming of some things I already thought!). She brought some balance to issues many parents face, especially if you are homeschooling or have bright/advanced children. For instance, I tend to read my girl things I like, but that meant I was not bringing her home books on her emotional level to broader her experience in those things. Hunt tells a story of a girl she knew whose parents did this and the result was the girl was disconnected from kids her own age; she needed to learn the simple lessons and values in those kids books even if she could sit still and listen to longer books or read harder books beyond her years. So my daughter and I have been having fun going back through the library and finding the books listed... We've found some new favorites too! You definitely don't want to miss this book!
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HONEY FOR A BOOK LOVER'S SOUL 17 Jun 2005
By Heather Ivester - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
You may have tangible wealth untold,
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold;
Richer than I you can never be
I had parents who read to me.
S. Gilliand

How many parents enter the library or bookstore and stand there overwhelmed, staring helplessly at row upon row of titles unknown? So many books, so little time to choose what's best. Add to that the pressure that advertisers place on families: kids want to read what's new and fun, and prominently displayed in book club catalogues.

The temptation to let your kids choose what they want to read can be irresistible. It's the same with meals: how many kids beg for steamed broccoli over chocolate chip cookies? If we let our kids read only what they choose, they may never discover the wealth of outstanding books that are beyond their present tastes.

That's why Gladys Hunt's book, HONEY FOR A CHILD'S HEART, is a classic that should be underlined and dog-eared on every parent's bookshelf. The present edition has been revised four times since its first printing in 1969. Now the author can boldly say, "The book has been in print long enough to have its influence affect the second generation of children." The feedback she has received from happy readers over the years is proof her ideas and book lists make a difference.

The book is divided into two parts. You'll want to read part one slowly, savoring her ideas on how books influence the hearts of young readers. The author writes, "Children and books go together in a special way. I can't imagine any pleasure greater than bringing to the uncluttered, supple mind of a child the delight of knowing the many rich things God has given us to enjoy. Parents have this wonderful privilege, and books are their keenest tools."

The second section of the book contains Hunt's "Best-Loved Books for Children: Books Your Children Should Have the Opportunity to Enjoy." Here are the meat and potatoes (or should I say fruits and vegetables?) that should be staples of your child's literary diet.

The annotated list is divided up into age groups: first books for ages 0-3, picture book classics for ages 4-8, first books for beginning readers, classic children's novels for ages 9-12, great books for young adult readers, and poetry recommendations. She also includes a list for holidays and other themes.

Although her book can't possibly include every great children's book ever written, it's a start. HONEY FOR A CHILD'S HEART gives parents a checklist, helping to ensure their children get exposed to the great worlds beyond their own through the open window of books.

--Reviewed by Heather Lynn Ivester
68 of 79 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing - There are much better lists than this... 8 Mar 2008
By P. Faye - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The book lists are somewhat helpful, but heavy on popular books - too much twaddle (dumbed down literature) for my taste. She completely omits some of the greatest authors of children's Christian literature; there are no listings for the works of: R.M. Ballantyne, G.A. Henty, Martha Finley, Ralph Moody, Caroline Dale Snedeker, or Opal Wheeler. Also, GH spends several pages defending the Harry Potter series. I much prefer the lists by Nathaniel Bluedorn, Christine Miller, Jan Bloom, and The Noah Plan.
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