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Truth and Story
The best books reflect Truth (with a capital “T”) and Story (with a capital “S”). Our ratings are one way to help readers see at a glance how a given book lines up in these categories. It’s possible for a book to be an excellently told story, artistically, and yet be antagonistic to a biblical worldview. Conversely, it’s possible for a story to be biblically sound, but to be poorly told.
We seek to honor both God-given creative talent and an author’s ability to reflect a biblical worldview (whether or not consciously), even if a given author is stronger in one category than the other.
Books are rated on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest) for “worldview/moral value” and “literary/artistic value” and given an overall rating (the average of the two numbers). When the overall value is a 4.5 or higher, we might give the book a “starred review” which means it’s the best of the best, a book we probably are recommending as a gift book or library builder (as opposed to a library checkout that’s read/returned).
This refers to the content’s relation specifically to a Christian worldview and Christian moral standard.
- A rating of 5 indicates at least some content that is specifically Christian or compatible with a biblical worldview and moral standard.
- A rating of 4 indicates that the content may not be specifically Christian, but there’s no negativity toward Christians and the moral standard is solid.
- A rating of 3.5 indicates that the content is neither positive nor negative toward Christianity, and includes sound moral examples. This rating works for a lot of nonfiction where the subject matter is neutral toward faith.
- A rating of 3 indicates the content may include minor characters or incidental statements that reflect some negativity toward Christianity, but still contains some worthwhile themes or thought-provoking questions.
- A rating of 1 or 2 indicates the content is so negative it could actually be detrimental to a young reader. We wouldn’t generally review such books at all, unless they are very popular and parents are wondering about them.
These ratings reflect our own judgment about the quality of the prose, verse, or art. Admittedly these judgments are somewhat subjective, but all of us are avid readers with a long history of comparing the good, mediocre, and excellent in both literature and illustration. All of us have served on multiple award committees, some secular (such as state book award committees) and some Christian (such as the World Book of the Year committees). In general:
- A rating of 5 indicates that we think the book has lasting literary/artistic merit and reflects a high standard of literary excellence.
- A rating of 4+ indicates that we think the book is very well done and will captivate readers.
- A rating of 3+ indicates that the book is a solid read for its genre. This is particularly true for many popular reads. This rating doesn’t mean we think the book is poorly written, but it’s the sort of book read quickly and enjoyed more for its place in a series, its “message,” or its ability to fill some leisure time.
- We often don’t take the time to review (or even finish reading) books that might rate a 1 or a 2. Life is too short!