When I first heard of The Guardians of Ga’hoole series by Kathryn Lasky I put it on my own list of books to read. Later, I took some time to read the description of the book, and I realized that it was written for middle-schoolers. I decided to listen to it on audio book with my eight year old son.
It is recommended that parents read books to their children that are several years beyond their reading level. The reasoning behind this is that children are able to comprehend at a greater level than they can read. Listening to books that are above their reading level helps them to develop skills as a better thinker along with gaining a better understanding of the foundations of language and vocabulary.
I had no idea how much he would love this series. We listened to the books together every night. We started at the beginning of August and we wrapped up the 13th book in the series at the end of November.
He was enthralled with the world created in this series. He begs to listen to the audio books all the time.
The series centers on a kingdom of owls that are entrenched in the battle of good over evil. The first book, The Capture, begins with the story of a young Owl named Soren. Soren is born into a loving family, but is soon kidnapped by an evil academy that is intent on brainwashing owls to do its bidding. Soren uses his wits to survive the academy, and the adventure begins.
If I had read the books prior to listening to them with my son I may have waited until he was a bit older. There is some violence in the books that makes me quite squeamish, but they haven’t seemed to bother him at all. If you have a sensitive child you may want to pre-screen these books before hand to make sure they are appropriate. Owls are predatory creatures so they hunt and kill other animals in ways that sound violent to us. There are also battles in the series and some vivid descriptions of the attacks.
There is also spiritual content to be aware of. The society of owls is modeled after human society and there is a spiritual dimension as well. The Owls worship God (which they call Glaux) and also have an Owl heaven. A few ghosts appear in the series, usually to complete business they left unfinished. There is a battle between good and evil throughout the entire series and the evil owls are truly evil. They kill their own families, they eat their own kind, and are power-hungry and seeking for complete control over Owl kind.
If you have a sensitive child this may not be the series for them so please check it out before they read. The series does not shy away from dark subjects, but covers them in a way that is understandable.
The story centers on the battle of good versus evil. My personal philosophy on exposing my children to things through stories is captured well with this quote (it is attributed to G.K. Chesterton, but based on research seems to be a paraphrase of sentiments in his essay The Red Angel):
“Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”
I want my children to see that evil can be overcome, it is not a thing to be feared. When dealing with stories that depict the battle between good and evil I am not worried if they see that there is evil in the world. This is obvious. The story of good versus evil has been around for some time. I want my children to know they do not need to fear evil and the power of story is a good way to broach that subject.
God’s power is greater than evil and stories are a great way for children (and adults) to see that principle in action.
We have loved listening to this series together and it’s really sparked a love of stories in my son.
Do you have a favorite series to read with your children?