Thursday, May 21, 2009
The Magic in Fiction
As a home schooling mom, I love to use literature to compliment a variety of subjects. Be it Math or History or Geography, I have found my son enjoys learning more when it is paired up with a great piece of fiction. One series that has help build his interest is the Magic Tree House Series. (and much thanks to my sister Dawn for turning me on to it!) The series is based on a brother and sister team, Annie and Jack, who have found a Magic Tree House filled with books. Quite by accident, Jack realized that if he points to a book and claims he'd like to visit "there", he ends up "there". "There" can be the Titanic, the Dinosaur age, Camelot, the Imperial Garden in ancient Tokyo, the site of a Tornado in the 1800's....you name it, chances are in the mega-book series, they've been "there".
More than a history or Geography lesson, Jack and Annie learn that although visiting the past, people are the same. They face similar situations and act and react the same that we do in our era. Time changes little in that aspect. Oh, but the things time and the right intervention does change, and those changes are long lasting. When the main characters do the right things, circumstances are altered forever-in good and meaningful and productive ways. The series is a win-win all the way around.
Perhaps this is why I am so passionate about Christian Fiction. Sure, the characters find themselves in situations foreign to us. Some characters may travel through time to another destination. Some characters begin in another destination either on a Pirates ship or in the year 1804 on a plantation. When I am reading, I don't throw a book down and comment it is just too unbelievable because it takes place in Spain in the 1300's. In fact, I may have picked the book up to read it for that very reason. Don't we like to be transported to a different place and time? Yet, what I connect to is how the character handles his or her tragedy and how change is brought about through the way they manage it. I want to see a long-lasting impact made in someones life. With Christian fiction, the emphasis is on how God helps that main character bring about change. With God, all things are possible. With God, all change stands the test of time. This is the real heart of Christian fiction. Where the story takes place is almost irrelevant in the long run. Show me the characters and how they are responding, and that's where your story is.
Time and place are the vehicles to telling a great story, but it's not where the focus should be. If you can take a fictional story and learn anything from it, that's as valuable as a biography.
A note of caution to Christian parents-in reading the Magic Tree House series, books 29-41 are called The Merlin Books and contain sorcery aspects comparable to Harry Potter. These would be good to avoid if that is your conviction.