Author Chuck Colson rekindled my interest in the classic story of Pinocchio when he mentioned the experience of a children’s lit professor. Vigen Guroian, author of Tending the Heart of Virtue, moderated a discussion between his students at Loyola College and his daughter’s fourth grade class after both groups had read the book. The fourth-graders demonstrated a better understanding than the college students. How was that possible?
If you have never read Pinocchio, check it out. The story is all about making moral decisions. Should I work hard in school or skip it and have fun? Should I do what my parents say or do what I want? Carlo Collodi wrote in a simple style, easy for kids to read, and it makes a great read-aloud book for parents and kids together. Pinocchio was first published in Italy in 1882. Once you get used to the old-fashioned writing style and the Old World atmosphere, you’ll get more and more involved in urging Pinocchio to go home!
In the last one hundred thirty years, children of every era have understood that Pinocchio is a very disobedient puppet, and he can not get his heart’s desire if he continues to please only himself, instead of caring about other people. Kids know that if you are mean or if you break the rules, there will be consequences. Bad consequences. The fact that the college students of today don’t understand such a basic truth tells us something in the soul was lost as they grew up.
We are born with the knowledge that God is great and powerful and divine,* but we live in a “what’s-in-it-for-me” culture. Advertising, television shows, popular music all convince us that “we’re worth it,” and “we can have it all.” Those who buy into that message get mad if someone tells them God may not want them to have everything they desire. The more time they spend insisting on their own way, the more excuses they make as to why it’s okay. Eventually, they no longer remember what is right and what is wrong. In the case above, it took a group of ten-year-olds to jolt the twenty-year-olds back to spiritual reality.
Whenever it’s my turn on Scriblerians, I’ll continue to mention classic books as well as modern books that help us remember what pleases God. Which classics would you like to see featured? Which would you recommend? The Bible is our textbook, first and foremost, as we learn about Him, but authors who love Him are able share Biblical truths through story. And everyone loves a good story.
* See Romans 1:20-21.