Ask just about any homeschooling mom, and she'll tell you it can be a challenge to keep an avid reader supplied with good books. Despite the fact that there are more books available to us than ever before, it seems harder than ever to find anything worth reading. How can parents exercise discernment when choosing books for their children? After all, there's a lot to think about—unbiblical worldviews, poor role models, worldly philosophies, and more. How do you sort through it all without handing your child a book that would cause any concerned parent to raise his eyebrows?

To share some insight with us, we'll be talking with John Thrower of The Family Vision. John is a homeschooling dad I had the pleasure of meeting in 2008 at a homeschool conference. It didn't take me long to realize that John has a passion for homeschooling and for seeing families grow stronger in their relationships with each other and with the Lord. He is the president of The Family Vision, a unique lending library in the Greater St. Louis area dedicated to providing family-friendly resources to more than 2,000 patrons, most of whom are homeschoolers. Sharing a part in selecting the over 8,000 resources currently on the shelves at The Family Vision, John has some experience in discerning between good and bad when it comes to books. Let's see what insight he can share with us.

Jonathan Lewis: First of all, let's take a look at the problem. We all know that many homeschooled students are avid readers who can consume a surprising number of books in a remarkably short period of time. That can pose a challenge to concerned parents who don't want to hand their child just any book off the library shelves. But are these parents being too concerned? After all, we're talking about literature for children and young people—is it really that bad?

John Thrower: Sadly, Jonathan, it is that bad. Parents can't take their children to the library and allow them to freely browse and select books from the shelves without facing some real dangers. As a parent you cannot be too concerned. Books have a powerful influence, one which can encourage your child in positive ways or destroy your child with negative thoughts and behaviors.

The public library systems across this country are rapidly changing. At one time the library was a family-friendly environment with books that, for the most part, were healthy for all readers, adult or child. However, if you go into your typical public library today, you are confronted head-on with materials that you would not (or at least should not) allow in your home. The young adult section for 12-18-year-olds is a cesspool of debauchery. This section contains rebellion, sensuality, occultism, gender issues, and more. The children's section is usually more subtle, but still the messages of role reversal, rebellion, and changing social mores are being published and distributed to young, impressionable ones.

The goal of The Family Vision is to provide solid Christian worldview materials so that parents can be sure the books and resources their family reads or listens to are safe. Guarding the hearts and minds of ourselves and our families is a job that requires diligence and vigilance.

Jonathan: In her article "Avoiding Literary Landmines," Derri Smith noted many of the same concerns you just mentioned. She pointed out that even looking at the titles and covers of books isn't enough to protect our children anymore. She shared about one book entitled The Geography Club. She wrote, "Skimming The Geography Club cover, for example, would have you thinking this is a nice book to encourage your children's interest in learning the continents, countries, and landforms of the world. In reality, this book is about a group of ‘out of the closet' homosexuals who designed a club ‘so boring' that others would leave them alone."