Our family is passionate about missions; and like most children, my children adore a good mystery. When I read about the new Lydia Barnes books published by Wesleyan Publishing House, I couldn't wait to read them. The books are part of a seven-book series about a 14-year-old girl who travels with her widower father to various countries on missions trips. Mystery! Adventure! Missions! Traveling with dad! I was so excited to get my hands on these books and begin reading them aloud to my children.
The book Lydia Barnes and the Blood Diamond, set in Liberia, caught my eye first since we have dear friends that were adopted from that country. However, as much as I really wanted to like these books, it wasn't long before my excitement diminished. In our home, like many of yours, we seek to honor the Lord in all we do. We teach our children that God is sovereign and that everything He allows to happen is for our good and His glory. Six pages into this book, I had major editing to do as the main character talks about her father's passion for the Lord as "embarrassing at times," says she doesn't "want to talk about Him [God] all the time," and says she "wasn't entirely sure God would always be there for her when she needed Him. He hadn't been there for her mom."
I look for books that portray good role models for my children, ones that exhibit character traits they can seek to emulate. I have many concerns about some elements contained in the Lydia Barnes books. Here are a few more reasons I stopped reading these books to my children:
Lydia is focused on her appearance, practices sticking her chest out, rolls her eyes at her dad and comments on his "geekiness," listens to her iPod too much, and complains that her dad doesn't buy her a cell phone.
As the plot develops in this book we see the issue of HIV/AIDS raised and a very straightforward conversation between the children about needing to have sex with someone in order to contract the disease.
In the book Lydia Barnes and the Mystery of the Broken Cross, the following dialogue confirmed my decision to not read any more of these books. Lydia is being instructed by her dad to not leave the guesthouse where they are staying. ""Do you understand?" "Yes, Dad!" she said, sounding exasperated. But she felt bad for lying to her dad."
I love the premise of these books, and the exciting plots portray children who do eventually stand up for their faith and help others ministering in various countries. The LydiaBarnes.com website has character bios, games to play, and pages for parents and teachers being developed. Some families might not be bothered by the elements that made me stop reading; however, I know many families who would share my concerns. I really wish that the negatives didn't so drastically outweigh the positives in this series that held so much promise.