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I just came in from a walk. Some of the neighbor kids were also out walking. Today is the first day of their summer vacation. It’s exciting for them; an adventure is about to begin. But I also got the impression they are little bit at loose ends. They’re missing their friends. And this might sound weird and totally improbable, but I think they miss being at school. School can be fun. (Yes, it can and sometimes they will even tell you that it is.) At school they learn new things and kids like to learn. They are all about growing.

Reading good books is one way for them to grow well. It is one way for kids to go on an adventure. We have created lists of books (select Book Lists found on the menu at the top of the page) that we think are interesting and fun. More than that we think they will bless a child or a young person. If you select the title, it will take you to the review. We don’t think our lists are the last word, but they might be a good place to start.

Just a thought, consider reading a book together as a family. Sharing a worthwhile story can be an enriching experience. It’s warm, friendly; it can build community, and reading aloud helps you to listen to each other.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

 

What Do You Do With An Idea?, written by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom, published by Compendium, Inc. (2014) is a picture book, but not one for small children. Its thought-provoking, life-enriching big idea will resonate better with older children and adults. If the YA people in your life can get past that it has illustrations, What Do You Do With An Idea? may find a place in their hearts as well.

The story is told from the point of view of a young boy. He says he had an idea. (The idea looks like an egg wearing a small crown.) The boy doesn’t know what to do with the idea and so, like many of us when we get an idea, he walks away from it. But the idea follows him on its chicken legs.

With the honesty and simplicity of a child, the boy tells us of his fears and his joy as he and the idea spend time together. He realistically tells us of his struggles as they continue their friendship. The story ends happily. The ending is a little over the top, but when we consider that this is a picture book, we can forgive it for its big happily-ever-after moment. (And who knows, some “ideas” do have this kind of ending.)

The illustrations are active and evocative. While full of energy, they also manage to have a thoughtfulness about them that perfectly suits the fable. There is a really interesting use of color. In the beginning it is used sparingly. The world is gray except for the yellow egg. As the boy and the idea become friends, more color enters the boy’s world. Vibrant color erupts and spills out onto the last pages as the story reaches its exciting ending.

Adults will be touched with compassion for the boy and his idea and remember with tenderness their own experiences with new ideas. Elementary school children will find themselves in this story and be encouraged.

What Do You Do With An Idea? is a great book. I think writers, artists, scientists and other dreamers should have it on their book shelves and take it down and read it when necessary. And there will be days when it will be necessary.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Raum is the author of Crossroads in Galilee, published by JourneyForth (2016).  She has created a “choose your journey” chapter book for elementary-aged children based on the life and times of Jesus in the first century. Raum did research on the time and place to create more realistic story lines, including details about markets, local crops, and fishing.

The reader may choose to follow the story of a boy from a vineyard, a fisherman’s sister, or a tax collector’s brother. After each chapter, the reader again makes a choice about what the character will do, and then turns to the chapter that describes the consequences of that choice.

The choices include such decisions as whether to follow Jesus or John the Baptist, to fight or turn the other cheek, to lie or tell the truth. The author quotes scripture to support the narrative.

The overarching story centers on the day of Jesus’ baptism by John, and moves on from there, following Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. The readers glimpse everyday life in Bible times, and see what a difference one choice can make in a series of events.

The writing is appropriate for elementary aged children. The story lines are gentle, but interesting. The font is large, and there are black-and-white drawings to illustrate the text.

The author begins with an explanation on how to use the book and ends with a short lesson on how important decision-making is. She also includes a glossary of terms, a list of references for the Bible stories in the book, and notes on her research.

Crossroads in Galilee is about 140 pages long, and may be found on Amazon, Christianbook.com, and possibly in your local Christian book store. It is available in paperback and as an e-book.

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.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

 

The Christmas catalogs are arriving and I haven’t even handed out the trick-or-treat candy! No matter. I do love to look at the catalogs and dream about great gifts to give to my friends and loved ones.

Just in case you are looking and dreaming too, I have some book suggestions for Christmas gifts for middle graders. BTW, I am also thinking of Christmas break. Having a great book adventure put aside (maybe even wrap it) and bringing it out when the kids are home might be just what you and they need. It might be especially welcomed if outside it is raining or snowing a blizzard. (OK, yes, I do live in the California– in the area where if it rains more than four days in a row we go online searching for lumber yards that sell gopher wood.)

Here is my list. I chose books from various genres, from classics and from newer releases. The list is just a sampling of the books we’ve recommended. We have a lot more suggestions. If you want to browse through more suggestions, select the menu to left and drop down to middle grade fiction reviews.

Anne of Green Gables–classic for girls, with a number of books in the series

Callie–a book for emerging independent readers about a finding a home for a cat

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe–the thrilling first book of C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia

Full Metal Trench Coat–first novel in a series for elementary school children, especially boys

The Pilgrim’s Progress–Christian classic, an allegory on the Christian life that comes in several versions

The Prince Warriors–a Christian allegory for boys and girls based on using the armor of God

Sarah, Plain and Tall–historical fiction about life on the American prairie of the 19th century

Scout— a boy’s adventures with a lost dog

The Shining Orb of Volney–a science fiction/fantasy for middle school and YA with strong female characters

The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed–historical fiction, a sea adventure for boys and girls set aboard a 19th century whaling ship

We All Get a Clue–a contemporary mystery/adventure, second book in the two-book series about pre-teen detectives in Edinburgh, Scotland

World War II Pilots: An Interactive History Adventure–a choose your own adventure

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

 

coverwithcharacters812cropWe All Get a Clue by Nancy Ellen Hird, published by Desert Fires Press (2016), will keep you smiling at the heroine, twelve year-old Libby Carlsen. She has a wonderful personality and is always making the reader laugh. This book is the second in a series, the first being entitled I Get a Clue. Both of these stories are geared toward pre-teens, ages ten to thirteen, but I had a fabulous time reading them, and learned a lot about Scotland as well. Both books are mysteries, and while they are suspenseful, they are not at all frightening.

Libby, an American, is staying with her Scottish grandmother and aunt at Shepherd House, Gran’s bed-and-breakfast, in Edinburgh, Scotland, while her parents are working as missionaries in South America. The book begins with Libby emailing her brother, Tom, who is a computer genius in the US. He is very supportive of his younger sister, encouraging her in the Lord. She is a Christian, but is growing and learning more about placing her trust in Him.

She tells Tom that she and her best friend, Roopa Kumar, have entered a city-wide writing contest, with their book on women scientists. They are hoping to win. If they do, their book will be published.

Libby is also excited about accompanying her friends, Malcolm, his brother Jamie, and their father, Mr. MacLeod, owner of a bakery, on a catering job. Mr. MacLeod has been hired to cater an event at the country manor mansion of Viscount Blackford. This event will be a tea for those who financially support the Museum of Scotland. They know Libby has had experience since she helps serve at Shepherd House.

After being a short time at the mansion, Libby and Malcolm are called upon to help Isobel Martindale. They will unload books from the museum shop that she has brought to sell. Libby, who plans to be an astronomer someday, knows Isobel from church and has gone stargazing with her several times. While Libby is helping Isobel set up the book table, Isobel suggests that she and Libby take turns looking at the Viscount’s collection of antique scientific instruments in the library. Libby goes there first.

She meets Viscount Blackford and his friend, Professor Walkingshaw. Lord Blackford thinks Libby is a friend of his granddaughter, Kate, who is staying with him while her parents are abroad, but Libby says she has not yet met Kate. Libby admires an old letter on display in the library. The letter was written in French in 1794 by Marie Lavoisier, thanking scientist Joseph Black for his letter of condolence on the death of her husband, Antonin Lavoisier. Professor Walkingshaw insists that this famous letter should be under glass, but the Viscount does not agree.

A famous countess is in attendance at the tea, and Libby is told to serve her some pastries. Unfortunately, Libby gets nervous, trips and lands flat on the floor. Pastries go flying and someone snaps Libby’s picture, which later appears in the paper. Libby is horrified by what has transpired and flees to the loo. When she returns, she learns there’s been a theft and the police have been called. The police inform her that it is the Lavoisier letter that is missing.

A suspicious man from the event stays the night at Gran’s B&B. The next day, Libby receives an anonymous note stating she has the letter!! More accusations follow. With the help of her friends and using her detective skills, Libby works to prove her innocence and solve the mystery of the letter.

Libby feels she is always doing things wrong, and can’t compete with her talented brother, Tom, and amazing cello-playing sister, Mags. Her life seems to go from bad to worse when another girl in her class, Philippa, wins the manuscript-writing contest! But when Libby meets Tiffany Taylor Bradstreet of the Women in Science Museum, she is encouraged. She is further encouraged when Professor Walkingshaw later offers to help her and Roopa get their book published.

However, more mystery, adventures and close calls are in store for Libby and her friends. All turns out well and happy in the end. The most important thing for Libby, is that she feels the Lord has heard her prayers and has used her to make sure truth prevails and justice is done. Everyone is very proud of Libby, and she feels strengthened.

This book is not only enlightening and interesting, but encouraging to young people who are discovering that they have gifts to share.  Libby is honest about her feelings of failure and frustration, making the novel real and helpful. Other young people can relate to this and learn to grow in their faith in the good times and the bad. They can also find that God’s Word is alive in their lives, lighting their way. I was encouraged in the Lord through this book, to keep doing good, even when others don’t always agree or understand. When I pray and follow Him, things are not perfect, but turn out according to His will, which is always right.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons 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 32 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.”

John Bunyan was a religious dissenter in 1600’s England. While imprisoned, he passed much of his time writing The Pilgrim’s Progress, one of the first allegories in Christian history. This classic remains relevant even today, though the language of his time is difficult for modern readers, and some of the historical references may not make sense to us. However, this is a story worth reading.

The Pilgrim’s Progress illustrates the walk of faith from seeker, to believer, and on through the trials and victories of life. It describes the journey as a road through places like “the Wicket-gate,” “the Slough of Despond,” “Vanity Fair,” and “the Delectable Mountain.” We follow Christian on his journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. We fear for him and cheer for him  as he meets obstacles and also many companions on the way, including people named Obstinate, Goodwill, Hypocrite, Watchful, and The Shining Ones. We see him put on the armor of God, use the Key of Promise, and see him met by heavenly hosts. He faces temptation and makes mistakes; he repents and moves on. There are moments of great evil—as when his companion, Faithful, is killed at Vanity Fair.

For young readers, I recommend two other versions of the book, written in the mid-1900s. Pictorial Pilgrim’s Progress (by Moody Publishers) updates the language, while maintaining the entire original story line. Each page contains a line illustration of the text, making the action easy to follow. The costumes reflect the fashions of the time the story was written, and the style has the feel of an old-fashioned adventure tale, complete with fighting between good and evil. Some scenes are rather graphic, so you must decide if your reader is ready for that kind of conflict.

My favorite version is Little Pilgrim’s Progress, updated by Helen L. Taylor, which retells the story through the eyes of children. It, too, is illustrated, and the language is simplified and amplified to make the more abstract concepts accessible to young minds. It is a gentler, but still complete telling of the allegory. For example, when Little Christian’s companion, Faithful, dies, we do not see his death described or illustrated. Little Christian only sees that the angels carry his friend away. Another nice quality of this version is the inclusion of Little Christiana’s story, so that girls as well as boys feel that they may take that journey to the Celestial City.

All versions are saturated with scripture references, and might not be comprehended, at least in full, by a person unfamiliar with Christian beliefs and worldview.

These could be fun read-aloud stories for a family.

The Pilgrim’s Progress, Pictorial Pilgrim’s Progress, and Little Pilgrim’s Progress are all available in paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com.

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.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

In The Prince Warriors, Xavier and Evan and their friends, Brianna and Levi, are transported to the world of Ahoratos. A cloaked figure named Ruwach leads them to a cave where he gives them armor and a task. He instructs them to follow the armor. (The armor they are wearing shines a light in the direction where they are to go.) He also shows each of them a phrase in The Book (God’s Word) which will help them on their journey.

Based on Ephesians 6:10-18, the novel is an allegory of the Christian life. The characters learn to face trials while following the truths of the Bible. The path isn’t easy. Sometimes they fail or are misled, but they are always given a way out. There are also consequences for their actions, which effect them in the real world. When they obey the instructions and follow the armor and The Book, they succeed. And once they return to the physical world, they are changed and try to lead others to become Prince Warriors.

Throughout the story, there are verses and teachings about Christian living. An example of this is when one of the characters is instructed to “Lean not on your own understanding.” Some of the other teachings are about working together as a group of believers, showing that as believers we need each other, and also sacrificing ourselves for others. The Prince Warriors is a great resource for discussing with children how they can use God’s Word to face challenges in today’s world.

You can find out more about the characters, the spiritual meanings behind the chapters, and additional material at the book’s website. http://theprincewarriors.com/

The Prince Warriors by Priscilla Shirer with Gina Detwiler is a middle grade fiction novel. Published by B&H Kids (April, 2016), it is 288 pages. It is available through multiple book outlets including Amazon.

J. D. Rempel is a graduate of Simpson College. She is working on a middle grade novel and an adult fantasy series. She loves to read and started a library at her church. She enjoys working with her husband in youth ministry. She also enjoys spending time with and taking care of her turtle, Applesauce.

 

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery is a confection of a book! It is full of sweetness, a little bit nutty, with a really nice aftertaste that makes you want more. And there is more!

The author sets her story in rural Canada during the 1800s. Anne Shirley, mistakenly delivered to the home of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who wanted to adopt a boy to help with the farm, begs the middle-aged brother and sister to let her stay. Green Gables, a beautiful farm set back from a road near a wood, is all Anne has dreamed of. Although skinny, awkward, and freckled, she is bright, creative and eager to please. Shy Matthew is drawn to her instantly and Marilla is soon convinced that this unlikely event was caused by Divine Providence.

Orphaned in infancy, Anne has been handed from family to family as a caregiver to younger children. She has received almost no affection or education. Her imagination has been the saving grace of her life, keeping up her spirits when all else was dark. Her keen sense of personal dignity makes her over-sensitive to slights from others.  Marilla is determined to give her a proper upbringing, while Matthew delights in spoiling her whenever he can.

From the start, Anne’s imagination and quick temper lead to trouble. She berates Marilla’s friend Mrs. Lynde for pointing out her red hair, but later she makes an elaborate apology that wins Mrs. Lynde’s heart. Anne daydreams while cooking and forgets to put flour in the cake, baking a disaster. She accepts a dare to climb a roof ridgepole and falls, breaking her ankle. She buys dye from a peddler in hopes of getting beautiful black tresses, but the dye turns her hair green! Anne describes all these events in the most elaborate and romantic language she can find, for all of life is so deeply interesting to her. In fact, ordinary-seeming things like ice cream and new clothes seem utterly wondrous to her.

Anne loves school and develops deep friendships, especially with Diana, her “bosom friend.” They are neighbors and spend hours tromping in the woods, writing stories, signaling with candles from their windows and sharing secrets. Anne develops a rivalry over grades with Gilbert Blythe, which makes her excel at academics. She is befriended by the young minister’s wife and the idealistic new school teacher, who encourage her to be her best self. Anne’s flare for the dramatic makes her a favorite at local recitations.

After four years, Anne matures into a much calmer young lady, but still with a flair for getting into unexpected trouble. She has an opportunity to go to college and become a teacher, but with Matthew’s heart condition getting worse and Marilla’s eyesight failing, Anne is torn between her dreams and her duty to the Cuthberts. As sorrows and grown-up responsibilities enter her young life, Anne must make decisions that reveal her heart to those who love her.

There are eight books in the Anne of Green Gables series, all worth reading. However, the first three Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island are the most beloved volumes. In the 1980’s two movies were made based on these books starring the incredible Megan Follows. The first movie closely follows the storyline of Anne of Green Gables.  The second movie combines elements of Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, and Anne of Windy Poplars, along with some creative script writing that keeps in the spirit of the original stories. However, a later movie starring the same principal actors, departs from L. M. Montgomery’s vision of Anne’s life, creating a new storyline.

L. M. Montgomery uses advanced vocabulary, a hallmark of Anne’s character, in all of these books. The author also records the prejudices of that time and place, revealing the characters’ mistrust of anyone who is not Canadian, such as Americans, French, Italians, etc. And, there are interludes in some books where ladies gossip for pages. You may want to point out the problems with this kind of behavior to your children.

The final two books move into the next generation of characters and away from Anne. Rilla of Inglelside—the last in the series— is set in the time of WWI and has many tragic and sad moments that might be hard for younger children. (Books 5-7 are entitled: Anne’s House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, and Rainbow Valley.)

Your local library, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com will all have copies of these books and DVDs. They will give you many enjoyable hours as you walk through the dreams and struggles of young people as their ideals and humor guide them on life’s journey.

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.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

From Kristina–Summer reading is important for students who are learning and growing in reading skills. It is the opportunity to have an unlikely adventure or read a teacher’s recommendation. Teachers often put together a reading list for their students based on certain types of literature. It is a great opportunity for parents to rediscover reading and literature with their children.

I encourage children of all ages and parents to check out their local library. Many local libraries offer summer reading programs. Such programs give students a reading goal for the summer. Children are often asked to write a report about a book. Younger children draw a picture. Reading provides an alternative to the digital media realm, and an opportunity for children to learn from some great literature.

From Nancy– We’ve put together several lists–One for family reading, one for YA and parents, and one especially for boys.

Reading a novel together can be a great family activity. Even independent readers can enjoy being read to. I asked Books 4 Christian Kids reviewers to recommend some books for such an activity. Here is the list. (The titles are linked to the review. Other titles for middle graders or YA may be found by selecting Book Lists on the Menu at top. For road trips check into audio books. Our review of Little Women will surely whet your appetite for such material.)

Anna’s Fight for Hope
The Avion My Uncle Flew
Chancey of Maury River
Cheaper by the Dozen
Escape from Warsaw
In Grandma’s Attic
The Incredible Journey
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Jungle Doctor Meets a Lion
Little Lord Fauntleroy

McKenna
Meet Josephina
Meet Kaya
Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West
Pollyanna
Running with Roselle
Sarah, Plain and Tall
Scout
Secret Garden, The
The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets
The Trumpet of the Swan

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

You and your older teen might enjoy reading the same book and then talking about it. Here are a few suggestions:

9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge
Emma
Found in Translation
God’s Smuggler
Mere Christianity
Night Flight
Night of the Cossack
Scarlet Pimpernel, The
Shining Orb of Volney, The
Sophie’s Heart
Soul Surfer
Through Rushing Waters

You can find other titles by selecting the Book Lists on the Menu at the top.

Boys do read and here are 2 lists of books we’ve recommended that boys might enjoy. (The lists do overlap with a number of titles from the lists above.) Girls might like these books as well. We are suggesting these particular books for boys because most of them have male protagonists. (Some books appear on two lists. We thought they were appropriate for both age groups.) FYI: Some of the books such as The City Bear’s Adventures, Jungle Doctor Meets A Lion, Full Metal Trench Coat, etc. are part of a series.

Middle Grade Books

Adventures of Pearley Monroe
Avion My Uncle Flew
Babe the Gallant Pig
The Children’s Book of America
The City Bear’s Adventures
Danger on Panther Peak
Dragon and Thief
Escape from Warsaw
The Forgotten Door
Full Metal Trench Coat
Hatchet
Hero Tales
Incredible Journey, The
Journey Under the Sea
Jungle Doctor Meets a Lion
Operation Rawhide
Night of the Cossack
Running with Roselle
Spam Alert
The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets
Tim Tebow: A Promise Kept
Trumpet of the Swan, The
Two Mighty Rivers: Son Of Pocahontas
World War II Pilots

Young Adult Books

Ben Hur
The Bronze Bow
The City of Tranquil Light
Escape from Warsaw
Escape to Witch Mountain
God’s Smuggler
Journey Under the Sea
Les Miserables
Night Flight
Night of the Cossack
9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge
Robinson Crusoe
Tim Tebow: A Promise Kept
Thunder Dog

If you are wondering about books that you have heard about, don’t know about and don’t find on this blog, take a look at Focus on the Family’s online book reviews. The reviews will give you useful information and discussion topics for specific titles. Notice that the reviews are for information purposes and not necessarily recommendations.

Happy Summer Reading!!!!

Kristina O’Brien is a mother of three, an avid reader and a credentialed teacher. She has taught both middle school and high school history.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is I Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was written by C. S. Lewis. Although I grew up reading voraciously, I did not discover Lewis’s children’s books until I was in college. Instantly captivated, I devoured all The Chronicles of Narnia.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950) was the first of the series of seven books to debut, although The Magician’s Nephew comes first chronologically in the plot’s timeline.

Set in World War II England, this story begins when four siblings: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, are sent to the countryside to escape the threat of London air-raids. They are housed on an elderly professor’s estate. Their adventures begin when little Lucy, while exploring the vast house with Peter, Susan, and Edmund, steps into a wardrobe. Snuggling against rows of soft fur coats, she inexplicably stumbles into another world—the world of Narnia. Lucy finds herself in a snowy wood lit by a glowing lamppost beside which she surprises a faun, who soon becomes her friend.

Returning to the world of England with her tale of wonders, Lucy finds her sister and brothers don’t believe her, especially when they try the wardrobe and find nothing but coats. Edmund teases her, but later gets into Narnia himself. After meeting a white witch who calls herself the Queen of Narnia, Edmund is taken in by her magic and promises to bring his family to her.

When at last all four of the children enter Narnia together, they meet salt-of-the-earth Mr. and Mrs. Beaver who plan to introduce them to Aslan. The great lion Aslan, king over all, has recently returned to break the white witch’s grasp on his kingdom of Narnia. Ancient sayings promise that four human children will help overthrow the witch and then rule from four thrones in Aslan’s name. But Edmund doesn’t like this talk and sneaks off to join the enemy.

In a land of breathtaking scenery, castles, mythical beasts, and talking animals, the children are transformed. Aslan radiates power, but models wisdom, compassion, and courage. As the beavers say, “…he isn’t safe, but he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” Working together with their new friends, the children must secure peace for all.

This book is exceptional on so many levels. The children are different ages and have different personalities, yet each shows bravery and growth. Lucy’s pure heart leads the way. Peter becomes a noble leader. Susan is gentle and caring. Edmund learns humility and develops a heart that understands the value of both justice and mercy.

Lewis is a master of description. With simple, clear language, he sketches vivid scenes and memorable dialogue. Grand themes of self-sacrifice, forgiveness, atonement, love, and community are woven into an engrossing narrative that readers love to return to again and again.

There are many commentaries of the allegorical meanings in these stories—I will leave that for readers to judge.

If you want fresh, clean literature for young imaginations, I recommend The Chronicles of Narnia. Reading aloud is a good approach for the younger ages. Upper elementary children will enjoy reading them as chapter books. The final book in the series, The Last Battle, has end-of-the-world themes that may be too complex and sad for young readers. High school-aged kids will handle that volume better. My personal favorite book in the series is The Horse and His Boy.

Your local library, most bookstores, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com have The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It has also been made into audio books and movies. I recommend you read the books first. Among the audio books, though, my favorite is the Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre version. Of the movies, the one that is most like the books is the BBC version, but the 1980’s special effects will seem simple to the sophisticated child viewer of today.These books will leave a lasting, positive impression on readers’ minds. My children still quote them.

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.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

 

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