You Gotta Have Faith

Author Carole Marsh talks about faith in her writing. After all these years, someone just asked me, “Are your books ‘faith-based?’”


I once met a girl named Faith. I had no idea what “faith” she was.

That’s sort of been my approach to writing for children. After all, I write to the entire classroom—each and every child as personal as I possibly can. The classroom has changed a lot over the years. I realized this one day when I made my AME Baptist church pastor artist take a graphic of the Cross out of a book. We both looked surprised, even guilty.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because,” I said. “Picture your child’s classroom; what do you see?” He thought about it. “Black kids, white kids, lots of new Hispanic kids, some Asians, others.”

“Think harder,” I urged, and then the light bulb over his head went off.

“Baptists, like me, but also, yes, Muslims, Catholics, Lutherans, Seventh Day Adventists, and actually, lots of other faiths. I know because they studied religions recently and the kids took a poll of the variety of faiths represented in their class. I was astounded.”

From the time I started writing for kids, started Gallopade, I had a mental checklist that included words like: wholesome…unbiased…honest…Yes ma’m/No sir…respect…values…ethics—you know that kind of list. I knew I had a big choice to make: I could try to please all the parents, all the teachers, librarians, booksellers and others, or, I could write to the child.

I write to the child. I do not want them to know what I think or believe. I want them to learn what they think, what they believe. In fact, we teasingly call it “the Carole Marsh question,” since it so often appears in my books: WHAT DO YOU THINK?

When I ask this, I am asking, “Think hard about what you have heard, studied, learned, experienced, and decide what you believe is right or wrong.” After all, not every child comes from an unbiased background or the same faith community and such. And yet, they have to get along in this world, don’t they?

This is important. We adults think we have all the answers, but what our children choose to believe is the answer for their future. We don’t necessarily want them to agree with us; we want them to seek truth.

Is that faith? Well, I have faith that my books are indeed “faith-based.”





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