Bilbo Baggins and the Beatitudes
Teaching children through fiction is not a bad idea. Indeed, it is a very natural one. Stories have always been used as a means of enlightening and enriching the mind and instilling moral virtues in the heart. Hector and Beowulf are examples of patriotism and courage, dutiful models for ancient audiences to emulate. There are lessons to be learned from Homer's Odyssey and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. However, in these classic works, the lesson is never "preachy." More often than not it is extremely subtle. The characters and their story comes first; the theme flows naturally from that. In much of the entertainment modern American culture offers its children, the theme—whether it is the importance of telling the truth or how to count to ten—comes first and foremost, making the story of secondary importance. It seems many of today's writers are so eager to make their stories educational that they neglect to make them good stories.
And now let us throw a birthday party for Bilbo! And Frodo--we don't want to forget him!