Although it’s been a decade and a half since I first unboxed History / Bible/ Literature A Intro to the World: Cultures (HBL A), I can still remember my awe as I familiarized myself with each book. Some titles I knew well; I was thrilled at the prospect of reading favorites like My Father’s Dragon and The Story of Doctor Doolittle to my children. Some, like Cappyboppy and The Apple and the Arrow, were new to me but eventually became favorites among my crowd.
The Case Against Reading Twenty and Ten to a Kindergartener
But one title me shudder: Twenty and Ten. I remember cringing at the cover art—young children tucked into a hole, horrified at the presence of a Nazi officer. I scanned the text on the back—French refugees hiding Jewish children and set the book aside. I’ll look a bit more closely before reading that to them, I told myself.
The next day, I logged in to the forums*, hoping to find wisdom from veteran homeschool moms. The book, I saw immediately, was divisive. Many homeschooling parents found much to love in the story, which had been first published in the early 1950s. Others, like me, were less inclined to introduce our young children to the concepts the book covered:
- children separated from their families during a catastrophic war
- food shortages
- evading the Nazi regime
- the death of Jews
It felt more than a little heavy to read to my second grader, let alone my kindergartener! I shelved the title and didn’t look back.
Reconsidering Twenty and Ten for Young Children
When I found myself back at HBL A with another grouping of learners, however, I had a different take. Having delved quite deeply into WWII with my high schoolers in Sonlight 300, I was better prepared to answer any questions that may have arisen through reading Twenty and Ten, as well as being more aware of how pivotal stories like this are to helping young children lay the groundwork for the truth that sin is real, and it has consequences.
I dove into the Read-Aloud and didn’t regret it.
- Did it require setting a scene for my children as we read, reminding them of the events of the day? Absolutely.
- Was there an element of very real peril? Without a doubt.
- But were my children scarred? No.
As a matter of fact, the dialogue opened was full of real-life application of the Scriptures we try so hard to hide in the hearts of our little ones!
Discussing Good Versus Evil with the Help of Twenty and Ten
The book Twenty and Ten confronts us with a stunningly horrific period of history, as told through the eyes of children. But it also allows us to face the uncomfortable realities of our modern world. In reading the book, I realized that I need not fear age-appropriate conversations with even young children about difficult matters whether they are the persecution of Christians around the globe or what life is like under the brutal North Korean regime.
The Bible is full of stories that lay bare the struggle between God’s goodness and grace, and Satan's evil and depravity. The tale of French children harboring their Jewish peers as they flee Nazi atrocities is just another chance to talk about God’s sovereignty and the good works for which we were created.
I’m so grateful that Twenty and Ten was included in a program designed for younger children. I believe it lays the foundation for a softening of hearts towards those in need, and reminds our children that Satan does prowl about like a roaring lion, seeking to destroy. It’s a painful story in many ways, but it’s the kind of pain that bears fruit. Reading it with your children will, I believe, open the doors to the kind of education that enriches not just the mind, but the heart as well.
*The forums are now replaced by a Facebook group just for Sonlighters. You are welcome to join us there! It's a great place to discuss concerns about books, share teaching tips, or get a boost of encouragement from mother parents who know what you're going through.