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For the Books for the #boymom series, Lindsay Schlegel reviews a book —  and a method— that helps keep eyes and hearts pure.

I need to start out with a confession. I bought the book I’m about to discuss in December 2017. We finally read it to our kids this month, March 2021. That’s three years and three months. Now, I had a baby in January 2018 (and another in August 2020), but still. It’s kind of silly that it took me so long to read my kids a picture book, right?

Well, maybe. Unless that book means that I have to confront some challenging realities about the time and culture in which we’re raising our children.

Perhaps you’ve already guessed the book. It’s Good Pictures Bad Pictures, Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds by Kristen A. Jenson, illustrated by Debbie Fox. And perhaps you’ve also guessed what I’m going to say next: I wish we had done this sooner.

good pictures bad pictures jr

Good Pictures Bad Pictures, Jr. equips children to deal with accidental exposure to pornography. I appreciate that the book takes a positive tone more often than a negative one. It discusses what good pictures are and how they make us feel — think photos of family, images of nature, and so on. It’s good to look at these, because they make us happy and they make us think of beauty. The book doesn’t get religious, but as a Catholic parent reading this to her children, I found it easy to connect this beauty to God and what He wants for us.

Bad pictures, on the other hand, aren’t good for us. Private parts of our bodies ought to stay private. Initially, I had trouble with the fact that this book used the word “pornography” to describe these types of images. It was heartbreaking to have to explain to our 6-, 8-, and 10-year-old children that this word could be shortened to “porn” and it would mean the same thing. But the kids weren’t fazed by it, and now I know that they have our definition of the word stored in their minds for whenever they might hear it again.

The reality is that there are a lot of screens in our home. We have pretty strict rules about when, where, and how the kids use them, but we’re not naïve. There are also kids at school with phones, and I know they’ve come out at the end of sports practices to play games.

This book teaches kids to look away and tell a parent or a trusted adult if they ever see bad pictures. We chose to revise that in conversation to “definitely a parent, and a trusted adult too, if we’re not there.” We also made kind of a game out of the three-step reaction method, and practiced it together.

All three kids enjoyed finding the hidden cameras on each page, and that activity helped keep the tone a little lighter than it might otherwise have been. My husband and I wanted to be clear that this was a serious topic, but we didn’t want to scare them. Time will tell, but I think my kids got the message, and at least we’ve opened up the conversation.

This book is recommended for ages 3-6, which is about where the kids fell when I bought the book. After the reading and conversation went well, you better believe I bought the older kids’ version later that same day. By the time you’re reading this, it’s in our home, ready to be put to use. And there’s no way I’ll wait thirty-nine months this time!

What resources do you use to champion purity and appreciate the dignity of every human being in your home? #catholicmom

Stay tuned for a review of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids once we’ve worked through it. And in the meantime, here are more books about purity we like for the younger set, both by Jennie Bishop, with illustrations by Preston McDaniels: The Squire and the Scroll: A Tale of the Rewards of a Pure Heart and The Princess and the Kiss: A Story of God’s Gift of Purity.

What resources do you use to champion purity and appreciate the dignity of every human being in your home?

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Copyright 2021 Lindsay Schlegel
Images: Canva Pro; copyright 2021 Lindsay Schlegel
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