Here’s one last set of extra comments from Micheal Flaherty, president of Walden Media. Our interview with him is in the Dec. 15 issue, and we ran previous outtakes on WORLDmag.com on Wednesday and Thursday.
Some people homeschool to get their kids out of terrible schools. You live in Lexington [Mass.], an affluent western suburb of Boston with a reputation for good public schools, yet you homeschool your three children. That’s a strong Christian commitment. Yeah, the schools are fantastic, but my wife and I are blessed: I have a job where she doesn’t have to work, and we wanted to spend more time with our kids. We wanted to spend more time letting them read and not rushing them from bell to bell. We wanted to enjoy them and watch all of those lights go on—the first time they nail their multiplication tables or the first time they read a good book. At home we ask not, “What did you learn today?” but “Tell me a great question you asked today.” We want to keep it focused on the inquiry and on making sure the kids are asking the big questions.
How do you decide on a story for Walden Media? Rather than rely on my own taste, I try to look around to see what has been around for a long time. Are a lot of people buying the book or a lot of people responding to it? I try to mix the commerce with things that people can really sink their teeth into—a really strong, underdog story.
Other favorite themes? My favorite theme in all of literature is related to the teaching in Hebrews that the substance of faith is a hope in the unseen. Lucy believes in Narnia: She’s crazy [The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe]. A slave trader says he wants to become an abolitionist: Nobody believes him [Amazing Grace]. A single mom says that her daughter deserves a better school and she’s going to build it: Everyone thinks she’s nuts [Won’t Back Down]. Those are the stories that I like. That’s one of those gospel truths I think is so important.