At Progeny Press, we believe in teaching literature to prepare children for the tough questions and situations that life will throw at them. As much as we would like to protect our children by shielding them from anything un-Godly, the best protection we can give them is to arm them with the ability to think through issues by which the world tempts them and to give them the ability and habit of taking those issues back to the Bible for God's answers. At Progeny Press, we believe teaching literature with the Bible firmly in hand, and open, gives children those abilities.
But why study stories and literature? Jesus himself taught with stories–we call them parables. He used his stories to clearly illustrate his message to his apostles. In Luke 10:25-37 Jesus uses the story of the Good Samaritan to amplify and illustrate his answer to the lawyer who asked, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus could have answered "All men," and the lawyer would have had his answer. But instead Jesus told a story. By describing the man attacked, the indifference of the religious leaders, and the care of the Samaritan, Jesus demonstrated not only who is a neighbor, but how the lawyer should practice neighborly love.
By telling this story, Jesus placed the audience within a common cultural experience and used the circumstances to lead the lawyer to an inescapable conclusion. Under the circumstances as laid out by Jesus, the lawyer could truthfully answer only one way: The one who showed mercy to the despised stranger was the neighbor. Jesus then used the story and the lawyer's response to instruct him in life: "Go and do the same." Jesus used a story to illustrate a problem, define the common cultural response to the problem, demonstrate the godly response to the problem, and instruct the listener in how to respond in like circumstances.
We can and should use literature, Christian and secular, as a map to anticipate the conflicts on the roads before us. We can and should use fiction as Jesus did: to view conflict in its cultural context, to view conflict in a Biblical context and find a godly response, and then use our understanding to prepare ourselves and others for similar circumstances in real life. This is the pattern we use in Progeny Press study guides.