You’re probably using or considering using BookShark because you want to bring history to life for your children by immersing them in wonderful historical fiction. You want to cuddle on the couch during read aloud time. And you want your children to learn to love books and reading if they don’t already.
But sometimes the books you read in a BookShark level reflect the darkness of history. Parents worry about how their children will react to these books or if they should even read them at all.
I had the same concerns when I was using Level K with two of my children, who were five and six at the time. While I loved all of the books in Level K, I must admit that when I got to Twenty and Ten, I paused. If you don’t know, that story is about twenty French children who went to live in the mountains during World War II. Later, 10 Jewish children are sent to live with them, but when the Nazis show up, the French children must show extraordinary courage and poise not to reveal where the Jewish children are hidden.
While I worried that the Nazis’ intimidation tactics would scare my kids, my fears were unfounded; my children loved the book and even asked me to read it again. Even though the story is set in a very dark time in history, Twenty and Ten was presented in a gentle way. My children understood the situation causing the tension of the story, but they weren’t exposed to the brutality that we adults know occurred during the Holocaust.
As your children get older and the books get longer in the various BookShark levels, you may continue to find books that concern you. If that’s the case, there are a number of steps you can take.
1. Get Another Opinion
There are many book reviews on Amazon and sites like GoodReads. See what others say about the book before you decide to skip it.
There are plenty of Facebook groups specific to either BookShark in general or the BookShark Level you are using. You can join one of those groups and ask others’ opinions about books that concern you. I did just that when it came to Twenty and Ten, and almost all of the people who answered me told me the book was gentle. That gave me the courage to read the book to my kids.
2. Pre-Read the Book
If you have the time, read the book yourself ahead of time. I did this with Twenty and Ten so there were no surprises while I was reading the book aloud. You know your child. If you have a sensitive child, you can always choose to read the book later when the child is older.
3. Stay at the Upper End of BookShark Levels
Each BookShark level is suitable for an age range of 2-4 years. For instance, Level K is appropriate for kids ages 5 to 7. A seven-year-old child may be able to handle some content in the books better than a younger child. Keeping your child in the upper end of the levels gets more important as you go into higher levels with more mature topics. Use the choosing guide to help you narrow down your options whether you're shopping for one child or for multiple children.
Overall, I find that BookShark has taken great care with the books that they’ve chosen for each level to make sure they’re appropriate for the children’s ages. When difficult topics do pop up, it gives me a chance to talk with my kids about what’s happening and why we agree or disagree with the character’s actions.