It’s difficult to find wholesome, good books for young children as they transit from picture book to chapterbooks. For example, I loved Roald Dahl’s Matilda and was going to introduce it to my 7-year old until I re-read it and realised that it contained questionable words like “stupid”, “ugly” and “ass”. Not exactly a good role model as a protagonist especially when kids are still very impressionable.
Thus began my search for good stories that teach positivity and good values.
Black Beauty is a beautiful horse who got a good start in life with a kind farmer, but later on went through a fair share of challenges and even hardships. Through it all, he remembered his mother’s words to never bite and kick, not even in play, and to always work hard. He proves his worth on many occasions and even saves the lives of his masters.
The book does not sugarcoat life and contains issues like abuse, violence, alcoholism amidst others, but they are of an acceptable level and many are put into the right perspectives and hence could serve as good learning opportunities for young children. For example, Ruben Smith gets drunk and rides Black Beauty incorrectly, resulting in Black Beauty being injured and Ruben himself died. I’m not trying to place a judgement call here, IK’m just saying that it is a an opportunity for youngsters to learn about how their actions can really shape outcomes and consequences.
There are mentions of abuse, but at that same time there is a great and wise man, Squire Gordon who believes in treating the horses fairly and confronts others who treat their horses poorly. SAs a result , Joe Green , despite being only a young apprentice is brave enough to confront a grown adult whom he sees carrying out abuse on a horse.