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S. D. Smith on Dangerous & Intense Stories for Kids

I’m a parent. Our family is intentional about the sort of media we read and watch (the kids and us), and we take that responsibility very seriously. But like so many other areas of discernment, there are ditches on both sides of the road.

Many of us, overcorrecting for the (very real) toxicity and vulgarity of so much media, have embraced a “safe for the whole family” approach that is dishonest and actually dangerous. It will pat us on the head and tell us everything will be alright after minimal danger that’s often just a misunderstanding. Give me dragons to fight instead. Real dragons that threaten and kill. Because that is not just close to reality, it is reality. 

“Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.”
–G. K. Chesterton

What is one book you love for its beautiful boldness that is dangerous…dangerous to the darkness? 

9 Comments

  1. Your books!! 🙂 Blessings and Trials by Thomas Davidsmeier.
    Can’t wait for Ember’s End!!
    In Christ,
    Heather McDaniels

  2. I think this is a very interesting subject that probably very few have discussed. As a Christian, my parents and I have also been careful about media. And I agree that we need dangerous stories to survive the real world, stories that give us solutions, bravery, and courage to fight. Even though the greatest war thru all time has been won. There is still that war inside us. The devil whispers in our war day and night to turn against the Lord. We have to fight that battle, and win. A fitting quote is by C.s Lewis. ” since children are so likely to meet cruel enemies let them hear stories of brave knights and heroic courage. ” God bless you.- Emily ( by the way, this is off subject, but will you be releasing a embers end audio book? Just wondering!)

  3. These books were recommended by a friend; admittedly, I did no research, before purchasing them for our daughter.

    As she read them, something just didn’t sit right with me. And, then, when we received the author’s emails, referencing Tolkien and C.S. Lewis…BAM! I knew, then, that I was mistaken, in exposing our daughter to this mythology.

    Suffice it to say, we gave the books to our dear Catholic Priest, who has added it to his List of Forbidden books.

    “Never read books you aren’t sure about…even supposing these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?” —Saint John Don Bosco

    1. J.M.J

      I too am a Catholic and was much grieved by this negative feedback which is why I found it my duty to speak up and ‘Bear the Flame’.
      Not only was that comment unjust but also uneducated. There is nothing wrong with using mythology. Catholicism itself uses metaphors to illustrate principles. What would literature be without metaphors? Think of the classics which I hope S.D. Smith’s dynasty will one day be a part of.

      Furthermore, J.R.R. Tolkien is in no way pagan in his writing. He was a hero, his work a crown for Catholic literature in his day and in a similar way, I prize S.D. Smith’s books! He is my hero now. Finally, I advise you to take caution before manipulating the words of St. John Bosco who I am sure would be a Green Ember Fan.

      Thank you, S.D. Smith for giving me a new appreciation for well-written, beautifully told literature in a time when such is scarce. Your tale has been like a drink in a desert plain and I hope that it will bless many generations of readers as much as it did me. Beauty will save world!- St. Pius X
      I am a young writer striving for perfection and I have chosen you as my master, along with J.R.R. Tolkien. Again, thank you for your story!

      My place beside you
      my blood for yours
      until beauty prevails
      or the end of the world!

      Vita sine litteris mors est: Life without literature is death!

  4. My mom and I talk all the time about how in school reading lists a lot of books assigned are just mirrors of the situations kids are dealing with. Every kid needs to read good stories that share different perspectives, problems and solutions, and we must have the dark in the world in order to see the light!

  5. Thank you, S.D. Smith, for caring about what kids read and for writing books even 14 year-olds love–(She’s now 16 and, at her request, I pre-ordered Embers End for her for Christmas. Am also purchasing The Green Ember for my 8 yr old grandsons.)

    Thanks too for your Vlog — we agree!

    Lauren A

  6. Well said, Mr. Smith. What is courage devoid of danger? What is valor devoid of suffering? What is true and right sacrifice devoid of the evil that must be overcome? By no means do I rejoice at the wrong, but rather I rejoice that a greater Good is born in the midst of it. I think also, that the fear that may come from dangerous stories is an incredible platform to remind my kiddos that, as Elizabeth Elliot said, “Sometime the fear does not subside, and you must do the thing afraid.” In that sense, we bring the war to fear in our children’s hearts by reminding them of the truth that all the bogies, all the dragons, even death itself has been conquered by a good and mighty King.
    Thank you for your enduring work.

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