Let me address one question first: should you let children read books which purport to be true stories about the supernatural?
I’m sure it won’t surprise my regular readers if I give a resounding yes. 😉
Obviously, if you “believe” in ghosts, it makes sense for your child to read books about them.
What if you believe that ghosts don’t exist?
My feeling would be that it’s even more important for your child to read books that present the opposition opinion.
You want your kid (if they are interested) to read them with your knowledge…and encourage an open dialogue.
Ideally, you would also read the same book at the same time, and then you could have a full discussion.
Fortunately, the licensing in the Kindle store makes that easy to do. Even if you buy a book (and there are many well-known books on this topic available through Kindle Unlimited as well), you can typically have the book on up to six devices on the same account at the same time…for that one purchase price.
Not everybody agrees with this…even fictional books with supernatural elements are commonly “challenged” in schools and public libraries. Harry Potter is a good example. I think the basic argument is that children can be seduced into evil by reading about it.
There is also a group of Skeptics (with a capital “S”) who worry about children being confused by unscientific ideas. For me, though, it would be a great opportunity to foster critical thinking. I would think for most kids we are looking at about eight years old an up for these discussions, but it would go something like this: “Why might that not be true?” That’s a core of critical thinking (and I’ve done a lecture on critical thinking before)…what are the other possibilities?
Does this mean I think every child should read non-fiction books on ghosts and such?
If a kid isn’t interested, or is scared, I wouldn’t push it. What I’m looking at here is a kid who self-selects to read something…and whether or not a guardian should veto it.
Again, that’s just my opinion: feel free to offer your own by commenting on this post.
Last thing before I point out some books: these aren’t just for kids. 🙂 I read books on these topics now. I’m fascinated with how people come to conclusions, and reading advocatory books on all sides helps illustrate that.
Okay, here we go…
Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*
by Hans Holzer
Kindle Unlimited (KU)
Holzer really popularized the idea of “ghost hunting”. An urbane and witty writer with more than 100 books published, that included being a New York Times bestselling author. This book is a series of short articles on investigations Holzer made. This is simple: either Holzer is lying, or there is very strong evidence here for something paranormal. Holzer couldn’t have been hoaxed in some of these situations without things being very, very complicated. While the book never gets explicit, there is some…I’d say racy material, but it isn’t really that. You might have to explain to a nine-year old why adults would go to a club to paint a partially naked woman, for example…although the accounting of that is written in good taste.
Steiger is another super prolific writer. This book is again one of short articles, although with a bit more structure as it covers different topics. For example, there is that Hollow Earth stuff…
Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magic (at AmazonSmile*)
by Isaac Bonewits
This one isn’t scary…it looks at magic and breaks it down into engineering like laws. I’m going to from memory here, but there is something like the “law of similarity” (if it seems the same, it is the same…that’s why you can make a replica of something and use it to affect the real thing) and something like the “law of contagion” (the more intimate contact something has with a person, the more of their “essence” it picks up. In other words, if you want to cast a spell on somebody, their fingernail might be better than a spoon they touched once at a restaurant).
Keel was highly influential, and brought a sort of hard-headed, blue collar approach to the paranormal (Keel was, to me, the clear inspiration for Kolchak, the “night stalker”). While many people’s favorite is The Mothman Prophecies, this is a fun, wide-ranging book. One minor warning: Keel isn’t always what would now be considered to be “politically correct”. That might also be a topic for conversation with a young person reading the book…
Nickell is one of those capital “S” Skeptics, but unlike some of them, doesn’t come across as vitriolic. If you want a kid who is leaning towards belief to get the other side, Nickell is a good choice.
There are a lot of choices…here’s one of the main categories:
Be aware that some of the books in there may be fiction…publishers get to choose their categories, and they don’t always make the categorizations that you or I might make. In some cases, it’s for marketing purposes, in others, it’s just not knowing which one to pick.
If you have questions about any specific titles, feel free to ask me. If you have any other comments for me or my readers, I look forward to those. Perhaps you think children should be protected from occult books, or you don’t want them to be led astray. Maybe you have other books you’d like to recommend (advocatory for the paranormal, or skeptical)…either way, happy Halloween! 🙂
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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help!
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.