Children's books on belief

Issues relating to promoting a secular state education and raising children in a non-religious home
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dscanlon
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:59 am

Children's books on belief

Post by dscanlon » Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:11 pm

Evening all,

My eldest child (just turned four) has started to become quite curious about just what happens in the RC church he passes by each day on the way to the park (nice work if you can get it...).

My wife and I (both atheist/naturalistic worldview) are trying our best to handle his questions about belief and organised religion, but it's difficult to not let our own bias creep in when discussing things with him! I'm also conscious that he could easily start using some of our language around belief when he's talking to his friends - I feel that he'll have enough challenges in our education system in the future as it is without having other parents forbidding their kids from talking to him...

In short, I've been looking at some books that will help introduce faith systems from around the world: came across One World, Many Beliefs by Kelly Mochel (see http://www.amazon.com/One-World-Many-Be ... 879&sr=8-2). Has anyone here used it with their own children, or have any other recommendations?
Feardorcha
Atheist Ireland Member
Atheist Ireland Member
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Joined: Fri May 01, 2009 4:28 pm

Re: Children's books on belief

Post by Feardorcha » Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:15 am

It's a very tricky one. In the mouths of the young our well-reasoned arguments sound like, and possibly are, prejudice.

It's awkward when your child announces to his pals that it's the Catholics (English, Americans, Muslims) who are to blame for some nastiness, especially when his pals may fall into those categories. (You will notice that I didn't use immigrants, blacks, travellers, as we are all liberals here.)

We have the following sayings in our house:
"Just because a person is a [Catholic] doesn't mean they go along with the policies of the Catholic Church."
"You can be against the cruel things that [American soldiers] do and still be friends with [Buster]."
"You are not to say such things to [Hassan]; you don't know what he or his parents believe and it is rude to ask."
"Some people like to go to [Temple] but we don't. We disagree but we can still be friends."

My last line of defence was always cynicism. I always told the kids that we only say nasty things about people behind their backs and that they can say anything they like at the dinner table - when there is nobody outside the family present. I think they got the hang of it. Social interaction does require a fair amount of diplomacy and falsehood. Some societies teach their children to mask their feelings, some train them to fix false smiles on their faces and of course many teach them to hate those outside their group identity.

I suppose kids eventually soak up their parents attitudes sufficiently to be able to reject them in teenage years.
dscanlon
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:59 am

Re: Children's books on belief

Post by dscanlon » Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:39 pm

Thanks @Feardorcha

I don't think our family is at the stage yet where we need to discuss the social consequences of belief/world religions...but I guess it's worth bearing in mind that it's on the road ahead of us!

Interesting that you mentioned an assumed liberal community here: I wonder how many Irish atheists would have a racist attitude to the Traveller community? Aanother ethical issue that awaits my children: one set of grandparents is extremely bigoted towards them :(

I think that the book I linked to is a "safe" intro to faith, and it'll hardly break the bank: I'll take it for a test drive and report back.
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