Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


A good book my husband and I couldn't have done without in our years of raising a family was Making God Real In the Orthodox Christian Home by Fr. Anthony Coniaris.  I love this quote about Lent:

"It is significant that Lent happens to coincide with spring.  I think there is a wonderful lesson for us in this happy coincidence.  Lent should be for all of us a period of placing ourselves in the position where the best things can happen to us...in the presence of Christ, where the Sun of His love and power can shine into our arid souls to bring about a real awakening..."

For many of us, that awakening comes by slowing down, turning off the television, and making more time for daily prayer, spiritual reading, fasting, and participation in the special church services of Lent.  

In our family, we also tried to carefully choose good books to read aloud with our kids during Lent, that would help underscore what we were doing.  

There are the obvious choices of Bible and Saints stories, but today I thought I'd highlight some good literature for kids, that you may not have considered...please let me know if you have any to add!

Sir Gibbie (Classics for Young Readers)SIR GIBBIE by George MacDonald, Kathryn Lindskoog. (ages 8-12) From Publisher's Weekly: George MacDonald's 1870s' Sir Gibbie, about a destitute Scottish orphan, was reportedly a favorite of C.S. Lewis's. An edition of the novel, prepared by Kathryn Lindskoog, inaugurates a Classics for Young Readers series, while a companion, Sir Gibbie: A Guide for Teachers and Students by Ranelda Mack Hunsicker, is available for teachers, students and home-schoolers. In the Guide, Hunsicker contends that Sir Gibbie served as a source for Huckleberry Finn, although Mark Twain (a friend of MacDonald's) upended MacDonald's religious message. Noting that previous editions of Gibbie "cut out much of MacDonald's Christian teaching," Hunsicker adds that Lindskoog's goal was "to restore [the book] to its original Christ-centered plot."  (218 pages)

HEIDIHEIDI by Johanna Spyri, illustrated by Ruth Sanderson. (ages 7-12)  I hope you can find this adaptation with Ruth Sanderson's gorgeous illustrations. In any case, try to get a good unabridged version. Spyri's descriptive telling of Heidi's struggle to learn to read, as well as her relationships with her grandfather, the Alps, the goats, Klara, and Peter and his blind grandmother are not to be missed. What touched me most was the underlying story of the stern grandfather ("Alm Uncle") as a prodigal son figure who has his heart softened by his tender granddaughter. (285 pages)

The Bronze BowTHE BRONZE BOW by Elizabeth George Speare. (6th grade and up) Newbury Medal Winner. Daniel bar Jamin is driven by only one passion: to avenge his father's death, by driving the Roman legions from his land of Israel. He joins an outlaw band and leads a dangerous life of spying, plotting, and impatiently waiting to seek revenge. Headstrong Daniel is devoid of tenderness and forgiveness, heading down a destructive path toward disaster until he hears the lessons taught by Jesus of Nazareth.  Elizabeth Speare said she wanted to make young adults feel what it would be like to live during the time of Christ. I think she succeeded!

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