Hero at Home, a picture book, written by Sarah Verardo, published by iUniverse (2018), and with a forward by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole, helps children and readers of all ages to view with greater understanding the struggles and wounds of our military veterans. The author is a devoted wife and mother. She is also a caregiver to her husband, Mike, who was severely wounded in Afghanistan.

The story starts with an introduction to Grace’s Dad, an injured veteran with a prosthetic leg. We are told that he wanted to serve in the U.S. Army as an infantryman to protect the freedom of all Americans. The story continues, telling us that he went to Afghanistan, and was wounded in action while protecting our country. Not only was his leg injured, but his arm has been rebuilt, using lots of tools. Grace and her family help him every day.

The book shares what some of their days are like. Grace’s Dad is still trying to get better. He goes to the doctor. He misses his friends who didn’t make it home. He also has a brain injury that can mix up his thinking a little at times. Sometimes he uses a wheelchair. Grace and her two little sisters like to ride with Dad.

One of the highlights of Hero at Home is when Grace’s Dad, who is not named in this book, tells Grace that even though sometimes a person’s body changes, they still have the same heart. Grace’s Dad has friends that have new arms and legs, but they are still America’s heroes.

This little book does not mention God, but there are some important Christian values to note. Caring for and understanding the hardships of those in our own family is a wonderful trait of those who are Christ-followers. Family helpfulness and unity is another. Caring for others in the community is the duty of all Christians.

I enjoyed this little picture book. It gave me an insight into the struggles of one family, and also, it helped me to see that prayer and concern for all wounded veterans is important. I know you and your family will enjoy this story as well.  It is particularly geared for children, ages four to ten.

 

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her six children. Her two daughters, two sons, one-daughter-in-law and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience, Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for more than 35 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

According to my research, the Italian, “venire alla luce” translates as “to be born.” Literally, the words are “to come to the light.” It has struck me this week as I’ve been thinking about Advent and Christmas how beautiful and meaningful that phrase is.

Tonight is the first night of Advent and at our house we will light the first candle. I will marvel again that Jesus came to live on earth. He is the light of the world. In Him we, humans, saw and see the light of God’s love. And then more marvelous still, He carried us into it’s brightness through His sacrifice.

Advent can be a crazy time for all of us, young and old and in-betweens. Especially in-betweens. We can forget what’s important. We can think we have to make Christmas happen. We forget that the light has come.

I suggest some down time to re-focus; read with the kids. And give yourself permission to not make a big event of it. (Hot chocolate is very optional and only if you really, really want to do it.) Just pick a book with a Christmas theme, settle on the couch and enjoy the story together. (If you don’t have kids, read to the kid in you.)

Those of us at Books 4 Christian Kids have a few suggestions for some terrific books.

God Gave Us Christmas

It’s a Wonderful Life for Kids!

The Legend of the Candy Cane

Lucille Nadine Alexander’s Birthday

A Night of Great Joy

Read and Play Christmas

Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story

Sparkle Box

For your young teen:

Jotham’s Journey

I get it that your older teen or college/person may not want to read aloud with you, but they still may need “a warm fuzzy” and some quiet moments away from all the excitement of the season. May we suggest for the young women in your world:

A Christmas Gift for Rose 

Engaging Father Christmas

Finding Father Christmas

21 Days of Christmas

Tell me how it goes. (I understand completely if you want to wait until January to do this.) And if you do decide to make hot chocolate, I want the recipe. 🙂

 

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue are her most recent works. These novels are mysteries for kids, ages 10 to 13.

 

Hanukkah begins next Sunday, December 2, 2018, at sundown and runs to Monday, December 10, 2017, at sundown. The name comes from a Hebrew verb that means “to dedicate.”  The book of John (John 10:22) tells us that Jesus was in Jerusalem during this Jewish winter festival which John calls the Feast of Dedication. I think it is interesting to consider. Why does John give us this detail?

Maccabee!: The Story of Hanukkah is an exciting, colorful book for kids that will teach them about the beginnings of this Jewish holiday. My review of the book along with a little more background about this historical event can be found by clicking the book title.

I also want to point you to Walk with Y’shua Through the Jewish Year by Janie-sue Wertheim and Kathy Shapiro. The book has several pages on Hanukkah and gives info on the traditions. For example, potato latkes, one of the holiday treats (and yum, they are a treat!), are traditionally fried in oil. This is to remind the person who eats them of the miracle that God performed with the oil and the dedication of the Temple.

There are a number of recipes online for potato latkes. I think you and the kids would have fun making and, of course, eating this delicious treat. A few years back I found a recipe for latkes in a magazine and tried it. The latkes were superb! That recipe called for a little lemon zest, a little orange zest and a bit of thyme. I used olive oil. Other recipes that I’ve seen use other kinds of oil. I think you can adapt a recipe to your own family’s tastes. But do try making them. Your mouth will be glad you did. And don’t forget the sour cream (or plain yogurt) and applesauce. OK, enough! I’m getting hungry.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue are her most recent works. These novels are mysteries for kids, ages 10 to 13.

“We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all God’s people.” Colossians 1: 3-4, Good News Bible

From God–through Paul, through us–to You.

Remember who He is today–the loving Father and the Kings of Kings. Remember who You are–the  beloved of Him. Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving, dear readers!

Praying with Jane is a lovely, small, hardbound book. Rachel Dodge has taken three beautiful prayers composed by the famous novelist Jane Austen and transformed them into a thirty-one day devotional. It is insightful, uplifting, and engaging.

The author’s introduction reveals fascinating details of Jane Austen’s spiritual and family life which may be unknown to many readers. Then, after presenting each prayer in full, she breaks them into small passages for reflection.

Each devotional gives insights into Jane’s faith, pulls illustrations from her novels, quotes related scripture passages, and suggests personalized prayers on the same theme. We glimpse the gracious life of hope and joy lived by a woman whose strength came from daily conversations with God.

For those who love all-things-Austen, this book will be a valued addition to their collection. Published by Bethany House Publishers (2018), Praying with Jane is about 160 pages long, and can be appreciated by readers from middle school through college, and beyond. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, and probably in your local book store.

 

From Nancy–If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking about Christmas gifts. This book sounds like it would make a terrific one–a gift a beloved would savor throughout the long winter months ahead. And don’t forget, that someone could be you. 🙂

Last year at this time Pamela Walls recommended Suddenly Single Mom by Jeanette Hanscome, and I want to point you to that review and the book again. Single moms can have a really tough time of it during the holidays. Maybe you and this book can befriend one of them, giving them the gift of an understanding heart.

 

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.

Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving, written by Laurie Halse Anderson and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (2005), is a fun read and a great way to learn historical information. The main character is Sarah Hale, the woman who was influential in making Thanksgiving a national holiday.

This small book written for children ages five to fourteen is cute, informative and inspirational. It is also funny in some parts. Matt Faulkner’s colorful and sometimes humorous illustrations are great, adding a lot to the storytelling.

The book starts by telling how the first Thanksgiving began. AS time went on, it wasn’t always observed as it had been before. Sarah Hale, a woman in the nineteenth century, had the passion and the tenacity to make it a national holiday. It took her many years of writing letters to various presidents to finally get her idea approved, but she never stopped trying.

In addition to fighting for Thanksgiving, Sarah Hale also fought for playgrounds for kids, schools for girls, and historical monuments for everyone. She argued against slavery, raised five children, wrote poetry, children’s books, novels and biographies. She was the first female magazine editor in America, publishing great American authors like Longfellow and Poe. She also composed “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

The story goes on to explain more about Sarah and her letter writing to different presidents. She was passionate about what she believed and never gave up. She also knew how to ask readers to help by asking them in her magazine articles. After trying to influence four different presidents to make Thanksgiving a holiday, she finally had success with President Lincoln. And in 1863, he made it a national holiday. Sarah’s determination had paid off. She can be an example to us to persevere, even when things get difficult.

Sarah was a bold, brave, smart, stubborn lady who used her time wisely. She died at the age of 90, knowing she had accomplished much. She is a great example for children and adults alike. I know readers will enjoy this book as much as I did.

From Nancy – Here are some more suggestions of books with a Thanksgiving theme. We think they are lovely as well and will add to your celebration of the day and the days following.

What is Thanksgiving?  – a board book that takes the listener to the heart of the holiday

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving – a picture book about God’s hand in the first Thanksgiving. The whole family will enjoy this one.

Thanksgiving Graces – a picture book about extending ourselves to family, friends and strangers

Molly’s Pilgrim – a first chapter book with illustrations for children in lower elementary grades that may help children consider modern day pilgrims.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving – a gentle story about family life at Thanksgiving from 19th century author Louisa May Alcott.  This short book with illustrations would be enjoyed by children ages five to twelve.

 

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her six children. Her two daughters, two sons, one-daughter-in-law and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for more than 35 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue are her most recent works. These novels are mysteries for kids, ages 10 to 13.

Halloween is coming and we have a few sugar-free but yummy suggestions for Christian kids.

The Pumpkin Patch Parable is a picture book for younger children. However, it’s message of God as the Creator and our opportunity to share His light with a dark world can be a message that will encourage readers no matter how young–or how old–they are.

October 31, All Hallows’ Eve, is an important date in the history of the Protestant Reformation. According to legend Martin Luther, on that day in 1517, hung the Ninety-five Theses (questions he wanted the church to discuss) on the door of Castle church in Wittenberg. It started a lot more than a discussion. When Lightning Struck: The Story of Martin Luther will help teens learn something of this important man and the incredible times in which he lived.

The Queen’s Smuggler continues the story of the Protestant Reformation. It’s a thrilling novel that gives a glimpse of William Tyndale and his commitment to translate the Bible into English, making the Bible’s truths more available to common folk. Though the novel is short and recommended for 8- to 12-year-olds, we think Tyndale’s violent death may be too upsetting for younger readers. Upper elementary children and teens though, may find themselves awed and inspired by the story.

 

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue are her most recent works. These novels are mysteries for kids, ages 10 to 13.

Publishers from time to time release new Bible storybooks and other materials for understanding and enjoying the Bible. At Books 4 Christian Kids we recently looked at a new release. We decided to pass on it.

I didn’t like having to do that. I know you, our readers, like to know about Bible storybooks and other biblical resources and acquire them–especially for your little ones. That’s when I realized that I had never made a list of books that we can recommend. So here it is and with links to reviews. (I haven’t made a list of holiday books yet. I’ll get on that. In the meantime, know that you can find reviews of holiday books if use the drop down menu to your left.)

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women

Amazing Tales and Strange Stories of the Bible

Bible Story Search

Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids

Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Story of the Bible

Little Visits. . . (a devotional series)

Look and Find Bible: New Testament Stories

Mix and Match Bible Stories

The Picture Bible

Read Aloud Bible Stories

Tiny Bear’s Bible

Words to Dream On: Bedtime Bible Stories and Prayers

 

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue are her most recent works. These novels are mysteries for kids, ages 10 to 13.

 

Today I am remembering 9/11. I remember the horror and the fear. But more than that, I remember the grace of God and the bravery and the self-sacrifice of the men and women who became involved, challenged despair and overcame evil.

At Books 4 Christian Kids we’ve looked at two books that speak to the bravery of one individual and his dog that day–Thunder Dog (for teens and adults) and Running with Roselle (for children).

None of us face the challenges of a 9/11 each day, but every day we all face small and big challenges. We need to do the right thing and we need to be brave even when we are scared. We think these books will be encouraging.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue are her most recent works. These novels are mysteries for kids, ages 10 to 13.

Bullying is currently a concern of many kids and parents. Whether there is more of it occurring than in previous generations or whether more of it is being reported, it is hard to say. But I think what can be said is that kids and often even adults don’t know what to do when it happens or how to overcome the damage. Mean Girl Makeover, a series of three novels, takes up the topic of bullying. The author is Nancy Rue and the publisher Thomas Nelson (2014, 2015).

Each novel is told in first person and from a different character’s point of view. The first novel, So Not Okay, is told from the perspective of a bystander. Tori initially watches as Kylie and her friends, a group of popular girls at their middle school, make Ginger, a new girl, the object of rejection and public ridicule. Tori surprises herself and horrifies her friends when she offers that Ginger can be a member of their science group. The girls stumble into their science project question: why are some people mean?

With the help of Lydia, an adult, the girls research bullying and eventually create an anti-bullying code. As the bullying escalates and spreads to them, Tori and her friends put into practice some of the strategies Lydia has taught them. The book honestly shows the fears, risks and missteps, as well as successes, that may occur when a bystander decides to not just stand by.

In the next book, You Can’t Sit with Us, the story continues but from Ginger’s point of view. Ginger unwisely reveals some sensitive information about herself to Kylie and Kylie’s posse. The posse threaten to make the information public if Ginger maintains her friendship with Tori and the other girls, and if she tells anyone about their threat.

Because Ginger’s test scores show that she is outstanding in reading, she is selected for a special English project. Ginger gets along with her study partner, Colin. After some time he reveals that he was bullied when he was younger. This subplot gives the reader some insight into how bullying may affect boys. The posse take their bullying outside of school to the Internet and even to Ginger’s home. Lydia meets with Ginger on a regular basis helping her to overcome her false self-image and to develop some resistance to being bullied.

The third book, Sorry, I’m Not Sorry, is told from the point of view of the main bully. The novel picks up the story as Kylie, two of her crew and their parents meet with the school principal. These girls were expelled for their bullying. To get back into school in the fall, they must do community service. Kylie is told that she will be permanently expelled if she cannot demonstrate an attitude change. Regular meetings with Lydia are set up to determine whether Kylie will change. Kylie experiences Internet bullying herself.

Working with Lydia, Kylie recognizes that she does have a problem. Volunteering as an assistant in the dance section of a summer arts program helps Kylie see herself and others differently.

The novels are good stories that will engage pre-teens and middle schoolers. Readers will keep reading to find out how the kids will handle the bullying, if it will stop and whether a bully can change. I think they will see themselves in the characters and be fascinated and encouraged with the anti-bullying strategies. These strategies are well woven into the stories and do not come off as preachy.

According to Amazon.com the age range is 9-12, but I have some reservations about that. I think the intensity of some of the bullying (school work ruined, cyber bullying, being locked in a locker) may be too much information for a nine-year-old. Instead parents might consider reading the novels and teaching their younger children how to apply the anti-bullying strategies. Also I think girls older than twelve could still relate to the characters and gain practical helps from the suggested strategies.

Though a middle school is the setting for two of the books, bullying can take place in a variety of settings, so I think home-schoolers would also benefit from reading the novels.

I usually think it is unnecessary to read a series of novels. It can be fun, but not necessary. In the case of these novels though, I think it is necessary. Written from the different viewpoints, the three novels together give a more complete picture of the subject. At first I didn’t like being in Kylie’s point of view in the third, but as I was taken deeper into her life, I developed compassion for her. As I experienced her change, my hopes rose for all bullies.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue are her most recent works. These novels are mysteries for kids, ages 10 to 13.

Book Reviews

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