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Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition was written by Margot Lee Shetterly and published by HarperCollins; Reprint edition (2016).

Many of us cheered watching the film Hidden Figures, an amazing story until then largely unknown. Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition follows the lives and careers of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden. In a time when few women entered professions in math or science and when African Americans were being actively excluded from many arenas of American life, these four women broke through barriers because of their intelligence, character, fortitude and vision.

Margot Lee Shetterly grew up in the community where these women’s names were familiar to all. Her unique perspective gives readers the inside scoop on an exciting part of American history.

This version is better for younger readers (ages 8 to 12) than the original book that inspired the movie. It condenses the story line, simplifying while explaining events for young readers in a way that might not be needed for adults who lived through that time or are familiar with the history.

The book begins by “setting the scene,” giving a summary of the kind of prejudice and injustice typical in the United States prior to World War II. It then talks about the opportunities open to women and African Americans in the aeronautics industry with the advent of the war.

We follow each of the four women as they make their way into the industry and eventually into that industry’s space race. We see how each woman finds an environment where her excellent skills become valued and rewarded, and how each makes contributions to the improvement of flight and the dream of sending astronauts to the moon.

Dorothy Vaughan was a teacher, a “computer,” and a manager, working first for NACA, then NASA. Mary Jackson was a mathematician for NASA. Katherine Johnson was “the girl” who checked the computations for John Glenn’s space flight. She did hours of analysis as a mathematician in support of the space program. Christine Darden worked in NASA’s wind tunnel.

This book weaves their lives together through the common factor of careers at NASA against the backdrop of a dynamic time in our national history. We see their education, their struggles, their family life, their sacrifices, and their determination. We see rich community life, mentoring, friendships, and love.

We learn to understand the kind of teamwork and stamina required to put a man into space. We see the quiet confidence of these women as they answer their country’s call to serve, using their exceptional gifts in math and science, while blazing trails for many who have followed in their footsteps.

Photographs, a timeline, and a glossary support the text. The book is just over 200 pages. It should be available in your local library. It can be purchased at bookstores as well as online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Also check online at the NASA website and you’ll find stellar biographies of each of the women in this 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. 

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Are you trying to keep up with a voracious reader? and losing?  Are you feeling left out–in the dark–about the books your kid’s carpool buds are talking about? Do you need more info about the books your child will be reading and discussing in school this coming year?

Plugged In, on the Focus on the Family website, is not just about films and TV. Info on the site says they have more than 6,000 reviews of entertainment media– books, films and TV programs. I was told that the number of reviews/reports on the books grows by three books a week.

The books are listed alphabetically by title. Click on the title and it will take you to the report/review.

The info in the report/review is different from the usual info found in a review. Reviewers of books for Plugged In don’t give an approval or disapproval rating. A report/review offers a plot summary and then goes on to cover Christian beliefs (if there are any), other belief systems, authority figures, profanity, violence, kissing, sex and homosexuality. A link on the page will take you to discussion topics and questions especially created for that particular book. (I like this last feature a lot. Talking through a book with a child develops a child’s critical thinking skills.)

Here at Books 4 Christian Kids we love recommending books. We love imagining a young person discovering a terrific, uplifting book and being blessed by reading it, all because we let you know about it. We love being part of that chain. We strive to find and point you to worthy books; we recognize that a young person’s time and your money are limited. But we also recognize that there are a vast number of books available for children/young adults/new adults. I can imagine that you want more info. I think the Plugged In site will help.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) You can learn more about her and her books at www.nancyellenhird.com .

For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

The watermelon’s eaten and fireworks are over, but perhaps the celebrations just whet the appetites of you and the kids to know more about America’s beginnings.  Here are a few books that we liked and you might like too. — Nancy

American Dream: The New World, Colonial Times, and Hints of Revolution (about Books 1 & 2)

American Dream: The New World, Colonial Times, and Hints of Revolution (about Books 3 & 4)

 The Children’s Book of America

Sacagawea: Girl of the Shining Mountains

We the People: The Story of Our Constitution

If you go looking for these books on Amazon, be sure to include the author’s name in your search. Titles are not subject to copywrite and so you will often find several books with the same title. Also Amazon, to the dismay of those of us who did graduate work in librarianship, does not always list books with the conventions of alphabetizing in mind.

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. You can learn more about her and her books at www.nancyellenhird.com .

For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

Dave Dravecky: He Had Made It to the Big leagues, but Then Doctors Gave Him Bad News was written by Dave Dravecky  with Tim Stafford. (It has 122 pages and is the abridged version of Comeback.) It was published by Zondervan Publishing Company (1993).

Dave Dravecky is most well known for “the pitch heard around the world.” In a game against the Montreal Expos, Dravecky, of the San Francisco Giants, was pitching when he threw the fastball that changed his life. Dravecky’s left arm snapped as he let go, sending him tumbling off the mound and screaming in agony. This book is the story of his life leading up to that final pitch.

Dravecky started playing baseball as young boy and dreamed of playing in the major leagues. He began his career as a minor league player. While he was playing in Texas with Byron Ballard, he became a Christian.

Many reports said Christians didn’t play with guts because they were too nice, but Dravecky would redefine “guts.” Pitching for major league teams including the San Francisco Giants, he seemed unstoppable. Until one day after being put on the disabled list, a check-up showed a lump on his arm muscle. It was cancerous and it needed to be removed. The doctors said the surgery would be career-ending since they would need to remove part of his deltoid muscle.

Dravecky had the surgery and it was successful; they removed the cancer. He was determined to come back and play again. But if he couldn’t, he would accept it. He worked out the arm slowly at first, even throwing a football. It seemed to cause some pain but he worked and worked. Eventually he could pitch. He pitched again in the major leagues even after his major arm surgery.

This book is Dave Dravecky’s journey through his baseball career that would end with one final pitch. He said throughout the journey that he was sad, but God gave him a gift twice. He got to play in the major leagues and he got a comeback. Dravecky’s final pitch was in the summer of 1989. That year the Giants would go on to win the National League Championship and play the Oakland Athletics in the World Series.

The players of the Giants awarded Dravecky the Willie Mac Award. He returned home for a final surgery. This time it was to remove his entire arm because the cancer had returned.

This book is good for ages 8-12, especially boys interested in baseball. Dravecky’s is a story of perseverance and hope.

From Nancy: Dave Dravecky has written several inspirational books for adults. On Amazon I read about Called Up: Stories of Life and Faith from the Great Game of Baseball and The Worth of a Man. These books might be good for fathers and their teenage sons to read together. I haven’t read them so I cannot recommend them, but I did want to direct your attention to them.

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

 

Hudson Taylor: Deep in the Heart of China is a biography by Janet & Geoff Benge and published by YWAM Publishing (1998). Hudson Taylor grew up in a Christian home in the 19th century, but he was not a believer. Through the prayers of his mother and sisters, Hudson became a devoted follower of Christ and felt a calling to go to China as a missionary.

In his early years, he trained to be a doctor. As he studied, he learned to depend on God with his finances. Sometimes, Hudson had no money to pay for food and his bills, but God was faithful and provided what he needed at just the right time.

On the long and perilous boat ride to China, Hudson and his colleagues witnessed to the crew and later they led them to Christ. When they reached China, the missionaries’ lives were filled with sacrifices, hardship and persecution; but they depended on God and persevered. God was faithful.

These are true and powerful stories of God’s faithfulness when believers put their lives in His hands. It shows what wonderful things He can do when we trust in Him and what it means to truly follow the Lord.

Growing up my parents read missionary stories to my sister and me. It gave us a heart for missions. I recommend reading Hudson Taylor first since his work paved the way for other missionaries. There are over 40 books in this series; Christian Heroes: Then & Now by YWAM Publishing. Hudson Taylor: Deep in the Heart of China is for ages 10 and above and is 208 pages. You can order this book or Books 1-5 as a set, which includes Gladys Aylward, Nate Saint, Amy Carmichael, and Corrie ten Boom.

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.

 

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.

Read Aloud Bible Stories: Volume One written by Ella K. Lindvall and illustrated by H. Kent Puckett was published by Moody Publishers (1982). There are many books of retold Bible stories for children, but this one takes first prize. Its text is fast-paced and kid-friendly. Through repetition it emphasizes the emotions of the people involved. Young children will be swept up in the story as if they were actually there.

The stories in this first volume are: “The Man Who Was Too Little,” “The Man Who Couldn’t See,” “The Boys and Girls and Jesus,” “The Wind That Obeyed” and “The Man Who Said Thank You.”

At the end of each story is the question, “What did you learn?” The answer given further relates the story to the child and what he or she needs to understand about himself and God. For example in “The Man Who Couldn’t See,” the answer is Jesus took care of His friend and He will take care of you.

The colorful, yet simple illustrations do more than enhance the text. They capture the excitement and adventure of each story. For example, the fear on each disciple’s face during the storm makes the story seem even more real. The children can almost hear Jesus command the wind and the waves to be still.

This book has been recognized with two awards: a Gold Medallion Book Award and a C. S. Lewis Medal Honor Book.

There are four other volumes which are just as delightful and true to God’s Word.

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is a widow and the mother of three adult children. Her five grandchildren affectionately call her “Grams cracker.” She is the published author of many poems for both adults and children; three coloring books: God Gave Me Five, ABC Fun Book, and Color God’s World Bright; and the picture book: My Mom Loves Me.

William Wilberforce: Take up the Fight (Heroes of History) was written by Janet & Geoff Benge and published by Emerald Books (2015).

William Wilberforce lived a remarkable life. Born into a wealthy merchant’s family, he had many advantages as a child, but tragedy sent him off to an aunt and uncle’s house for a number of years. There he was given a Bible and nurtured in the Christian faith.

After returning home, William steadily lost touch with his faith and lived a life of materialism: partying, singing, drinking, betting on cards, and avoiding his studies.

A visit to Parliament introduced William to his calling–politics– and to William Pitt, who became a dear friend and partner in the British government. The two young men pursued their careers together. At twenty-one, William Wilberforce became the youngest man ever elected to Parliament. William Pitt did not join him until later, but rose to become Prime Minister by the age of twenty-four.

Through reading and debate, William Wilberforce’s mind and heart turned back to Christianity. Could he be a Christian and a politician at the same time? He wrote to William Pitt, explaining that he thought he should resign from the government. He secretly met with his mentor, John Newton, to seek his advice. Both Pitt and Newton encouraged Wilberforce to remain in politics. Thrilled and terrified, William Wilberforce decided to display publicly what God might do through a man determined to follow Him.

Wilberforce sought to translate his faith into bills that would benefit society and eradicate its many evils. He debated long and hard, but often his bills were rejected. He also used his fortune to support education for poor children, more humane prisons, kinder treatment for animals, better public manners and polite speech, and many other causes.

Slowly, Wilberforce met people who educated him on the evils of the slave trade, including Thomas Clarkson, James Ramsay, Sir Charles Middleton, and others. He realized this was a great cause that he must champion. For years it seemed that William introduced a new anti-slave bill each spring, only to have it voted down. He tried many different strategies to end this human trafficking, but it was hard to sway the wealthy men who derived so much income from the labor of their own slaves. Public opinion sometimes went his way, sometimes against him. His health suffered, but he pushed on.

Read how William’s efforts finally brought about the demise of this great evil, how God blessed his life through an unexpected marriage, and how God upheld William even through loss and trouble.

The life of William Wilberforce is an important story for children to read. This biography is suited for upper elementary, middle school, and high school audiences. Although the subject matter—slavery—is harsh, the writers deal with it skillfully. They make the evils abundantly clear without graphic description. There is a lot of talk about war and politics that can be a little confusing. This was a very dynamic era in British history. The language level is appropriate and the story length is about 200 pages. You can buy it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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. 

 

Hanukkah begins on Sunday, December 6, 2015. (Sorry for the late reminder.) It ends at sundown on December 14.  John 10:22 mentions Jesus celebrating this Jewish holiday where it is called the Feast of Dedication.  Walking with Y’shua Through the Jewish Year offers a bit of history, a bit of reflection on how we might respond to the holiday and some suggestions for family fun. Maccabee! The Story of Hanukkah is a picture book for school-age children that tells the story in an exciting, inspiring way.

Reading holiday books with a child or children can be such a rich experience for everyone. If you are looking for Christmas books that you and the kids might read and enjoy together, here are some suggestions:

It’s a Wonderful Life for Kids!

Jotham’s Journey

The Legend of the Candy Cane

Lucille Nadine Alexander’s Birthday

Read and Play Christmas

Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story

Sparkle Box

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) Two of her published works for children are Marty’s Monster and Jessica Jacobs Did What?  Her latest work 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.

What Is Thanksgiving? by Michelle Medlock Adams, illustrated by Amy Wummer and published by Candy Cane Press (2009) is a charmer. This board book for preschoolers takes a lively look at the holiday with all its excitement and pleasures. It begins with the more obvious experiences of delicious food, parades, football and family, but moves beyond to the most important part of the day–giving thanks to God.

What Is Thanksgiving? is written in rhyme that, for the most part, works. The phrases often seem to bubble and bounce, capturing the joy of the holiday. The illustrations are colorful, full of activity and kid-friendly. The scenes depicted are warm and at times gently humorous.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) Two of her published works for children are Marty’s Monster and Jessica Jacobs Did What?  Her latest work 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.

Book Reviews

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