Feed the Child's Mind With Proper Food. --The susceptible, expanding mind of
the child longs for knowledge. Parents should keep themselves well informed,
that they may give the minds of their children proper food. Like the body, the
mind derives its strength from the food it receives. It is broadened and
elevated by pure, strengthening thoughts; but it is narrowed and debased by
thoughts that are of the earth earthy.
Parents, you are the ones to decide whether the minds of your children shall
be filled with ennobling thoughts or with vicious sentiments. You cannot keep
their active minds unoccupied; neither can you frown away evil. Only by the
inculcation of right principles can you exclude wrong thoughts. Unless parents
plant the seeds of truth in the hearts of their children, the enemy will sow
tares. Good, sound instruction is the only preventive of the evil communications
that corrupt good manners. Truth will protect the soul from the endless
temptations that must be encountered.
Parents to Control Reading Habits. --Many youth are eager for books. They
read anything that they can obtain. I appeal to the parents of such children to
control their desire for reading. Do not permit upon your tables the magazines
and newspapers in which are found love stories. Supply their place with books
that will help the youth to put into their character-building the very best
material--the love and fear of God, the knowledge of Christ. Encourage your
children to store the mind with valuable knowledge, to let that which is good
occupy the soul and control its powers, leaving no place for low, debasing thoughts.
Restrict the desire for reading matter that does not furnish good food for the
Parents should endeavour to keep out of the home every influence that is not
productive of good. In this matter some parents have much to learn. To those who
feel free to read story magazines and novels I would say: You are sowing seed
the harvest of which you will not care to garner. From such reading there is no
spiritual strength to be gained. Rather it destroys love for the pure truth of
the word. Through the agency of novels and story magazines, Satan is working to
fill with unreal and trivial thoughts minds that should be diligently studying
the word of God. Thus he is robbing thousands upon thousands of the time and
energy and self-discipline demanded by the stern problems of life.
Children need proper reading which will afford amusement and recreation and
not demoralize the mind or weary the body. If they are taught to love romance
and newspaper tales, instructive books and papers will become distasteful to
them. Most children and young people will have reading matter; and if it is not
selected for them, they will select it for themselves. They can find a ruinous
quality of reading anywhere, and they soon learn to love it; but if pure and
good reading is furnished them, they will cultivate a taste for that.
Discipline and Educate Mental Tastes. --The mental tastes must be disciplined
and educated with the greatest care. Parents must begin early to unfold the
Scriptures to the expanding minds of their children, that proper habits of
thought may be formed.
No effort should be spared to establish right habits of study. If the mind
wanders, bring it back. If the intellectual and moral tastes have been perverted by over-wrought and exciting tales of
fiction so that there is a disinclination to apply the mind, there is a battle
to be fought to overcome this habit. A love for fictitious reading should be
overcome at once. Rigid rules should be enforced to hold the mind in the proper
Avoid Cultivating Taste for Fiction. --What shall our children read? This is
a serious question and one that demands a serious answer. It troubles me to see
in Sabbathkeeping families periodicals and newspapers containing continued
stories which leave no impressions for good on the minds of children and youth.
I have watched those whose taste for fiction was thus cultivated. They have had
the privilege of listening to the truth, of becoming acquainted with the reasons
of our faith; but they have grown to maturer years destitute of true piety and
The readers of fiction are indulging an evil that destroys spirituality,
eclipsing the beauty of the sacred page.
Prevalence of Harmful Books. --The world is deluged with books that might
better be consumed than circulated. Books on sensational topics, published and
circulated as a money-making scheme, might better never be read by the youth.
There is a satanic fascination in such books. . . .
The practice of story reading is one of the means employed by Satan to
destroy souls. It produces a false, unhealthy excitement, fevers the
imagination, unfits the mind for usefulness, and disqualifies it for any
spiritual exercise. It weans the soul from prayer and from the love of spiritual
Works of romance, frivolous, exciting tales, are, in hardly less degree, a
curse to the reader. The author may profess to teach a moral lesson; throughout
his work he may interweave religious sentiments, but often these serve only to
veil the folly and worthlessness beneath.
Infidel Authors. --Another source of danger against which we should be
constantly on guard is the reading of infidel authors. Such works are inspired
by the enemy of truth, and no one can read them without imperiling the soul. It
is true that some who are affected by them may finally recover; but all who
tamper with their evil influence place themselves on Satan's ground, and he
makes the most of his advantage. As they invite his temptations, they have not
wisdom to discern or strength to resist them. With a fascinating, bewitching
power unbelief and infidelity fasten themselves upon the mind.
Myths and Fairy Tales. --In the education of children and youth fairy tales,
myths, and fictitious stories are now given a large place. Books of this
character are used in schools, and they are to be found in many homes. How can
Christian parents permit their children to use books so filled with falsehood?
When the children ask the meaning of stories so contrary to the teaching of
their parents, the answer is that the stories are not true; but this does not do
away with the evil results of their use. The ideas presented in these books
mislead the children. They impart false views of life and beget and foster a
desire for the unreal. . . .
Never should books containing a perversion of truth be placed in the hands of
children or youth. Let not our children, in the very process of obtaining an
education, receive ideas that will prove to be seeds of sin.
How Mental Vigour Is Destroyed. --There are few well-balanced minds because
parents are wickedly negligent of their duty to stimulate weak traits and
repress wrong ones. They do not remember that they are under the most solemn
obligation to watch the tendencies of each child, that it is their duty to train
their children to right habits and right ways of thinking.
Cultivate the moral and intellectual powers. Let not these noble powers
become enfeebled and perverted by much reading of even storybooks. I know of
strong minds that have been unbalanced and partially benumbed, or paralysed, by
intemperance in reading.
Exciting Reading Makes Restless, Dreamy Child. -- Readers of frivolous,
exciting tales become unfitted for the duties of practical life. They live in an
unreal world. I have watched children who have been allowed to make a practice
of reading such stories. Whether at home or abroad, they were restless, dreamy,
unable to converse except upon the most commonplace subjects. Religious thought
and conversation was entirely foreign to their minds. With the cultivation of an
appetite for sensational stories the mental taste is perverted, and the mind is
not satisfied unless fed upon this unwholesome food. I can think of no more
fitting name for those who indulge in such reading than mental inebriates.
Intemperate habits of reading have an effect upon the brain similar to that
which intemperate habits of eating and drinking have upon the body.
Before accepting the present truth, some had formed the habit of novel
reading. Upon uniting with the church, they made an effort to overcome this
habit. To place before this class reading similar to that which they have
discarded is like offering intoxicants to the inebriate. Yielding to the temptation continually before them, they soon lose their relish for
solid reading. They have no interest in Bible study. Their moral power becomes
enfeebled. Sin appears less and less repulsive. There is manifest an increasing
unfaithfulness, a growing distaste for life's practical duties. As the mind
becomes perverted, it is ready to grasp any reading of a stimulating character.
Thus the way is open for Satan to bring the soul fully under his domination.
Hasty, Superficial Reading Weakens Power of Concentration. --With the immense
tide of printed matter constantly pouring from the press, old and young form the
habit of reading hastily and superficially, and the mind loses its power of
connected and vigorous thought. Furthermore, a large share of the periodicals
and books that, like the frogs of Egypt, are overspreading the land are not
merely commonplace, idle, and enervating, but unclean and degrading. Their
effect is not merely to intoxicate and ruin the mind, but to corrupt and destroy
"I Cannot Afford Our Church Papers." --There are those who profess
to be brethren who do not take the Review, Signs, Instructor, or Good Health,
but take one or more secular papers. Their children are deeply interested in
reading the fictitious tales and love stories which are found in these papers,
and which their father can afford to pay for, although claiming that he cannot
afford to pay for our periodicals and publications on present truth. . . .
Parents should guard their children and teach them to cultivate a pure
imagination and to shun, as they would a leper, the lovesick pen pictures
presented in newspapers. Let publications upon moral and religious subjects be found on your tables
and in your libraries, that your children may cultivate a taste for elevated
Messages to Youth on Objectives in Reading. --As I see the danger that
threatens the youth from improper reading, I cannot forbear to present still
further the warnings given me in regard to this great evil.
The harm that results to the workers from handling matter of an objectionable
character is too little realized. Their attention is arrested and their interest
aroused by the subject matter with which they are dealing. Sentences are
imprinted in the memory. Thoughts are suggested. Almost unconsciously the reader
is influenced by the spirit of the writer, and mind and character receive an
impress for evil. There are some who have little faith and little power of
self-control, and it is difficult for them to banish the thoughts suggested by
Oh, that the young would reflect upon the influence which exciting stories
have upon the mind! Can you, after such reading, open the word of God and read
the words of life with interest? Do you not find the book of God uninteresting?
The charm of that love story is upon the mind, destroying its healthy tone and
making it impossible for you to fix your mind upon the important, solemn truths
which concern your eternal interest. You sin against your parents in devoting to
such a poor purpose the time which belongs to them, and you sin against God in
thus using the time which should be spent in devotion to Him.
Children, I have a message for you. You are now deciding your future destiny,
and your character building is of that kind which will exclude you from the
Paradise of God. . . . How sad it is for Jesus, the world's
Redeemer, to look upon a family where the children have no love for God, no
respect for the word of God, but are all absorbed in reading storybooks. The
time occupied in this way robs you of a desire to become effective in household
duties; it disqualifies you to stand at the head of a family, and if continued
it will entangle you more and more closely in Satan's snare. . . . Some of the
books you read contain excellent principles, but you read only to get the story.
If you would gather from the books you read that which would help you in the
formation of your character, your reading would do you some good. But as you
take up your books and peruse page after page of them, do you ask yourself, What
is my object in reading? Am I seeking to gain substantial knowledge? You cannot
build a right character by bringing to the foundation wood, hay, and stubble.
Sow in the Mind Seeds of Bible Truth. --Between an uncultivated field and an
untrained mind there is a striking similarity. In the minds of children and
youth the enemy sows tares, and unless parents keep watchful guard, these will
spring up to bear their evil fruit. Unceasing care is needed in cultivating the
soil of the mind and sowing it with the precious seed of Bible truth. Children
should be taught to reject trashy, exciting tales and to turn to sensible
reading, which will lead the mind to take an interest in Bible story, history,
and argument. Reading that will throw light upon the Sacred Volume and quicken
the desire to study it is not dangerous, but beneficial.
It is impossible for the youth to possess a healthy tone of mind and correct
religious principles unless they enjoy the perusal of the word of God. This book
contains the most interesting history, points out the way of salvation through Christ, and is their guide to a higher and better life.