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From Kristina–Summer reading is important as well as fun. Students engaging in this activity practice and improve their 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 also 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 middle grade readers, one for YA and parents, and one especially for boys.

Reading a non-fiction book or a novel together can be great family fun and a terrific summertime activity. So why not choose a couple of books and give the TV and the video games a rest. Take your family on an armchair holiday/adventure. Listen to your own voices as you take turns reading to each other. It could be a very special time for all of you.

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
Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition
Horse to Love, A
I Get a Clue
In Grandma’s Attic
The Incredible Journey
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Jungle Doctor Meets a Lion
Little Lord Fauntleroy

Meet Josephina
Meet Kaya
Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West 
Nanea: Growing Up with Aloha
Nick Newton Is Not a Genius
Running with Roselle
Sarah, Plain and Tall
Secret Garden, The
The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets
The Trumpet of the Swan

We All Get a Clue
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
Found in Translation
God’s Smuggler
Mere Christianity
Night Flight
Night of the Cossack
Scarlet Pimpernel, The
Sophie’s Heart
Soul Surfer
Through Rushing Waters
Zookeeper’s Wife, The

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
Hero Tales
Incredible Journey, The
Journey Under the Sea
Jungle Doctor Meets a Lion
Operation Rawhide
Nick Newton Is Not a Genius
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
Boys, in the Boat, The
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
7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness
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.


In Peculiar Treasures by Robin Jones Gunn and published by Zondervan (2008), quirky, red-headed Katie Weldon is finishing up her junior year of college at Rancho Corona. Her best friend, Christy Miller, is recently married. Katie is in a dating relationship with Rick Doyle, the boy she has had a crush on since high school. As she works to define her relationship with Rick, another guy whom she nicknames “goatee guy” arrives on the scene and challenges Katie’s perceptions.

Struggling with finances, Katie is given a new job as a resident advisor in the dorm, but it takes her away from Rick. Their efforts to draw closer seem to push them further apart. As Katie juggles her responsibilities of work and school, her relationship with Rick becomes a roller coaster.

Other troubles arise as she adjusts to her new job and the conflicts it brings. Katie realizes she must learn to forgive others in order to receive into her heart the peculiar treasures God has given her.

Peculiar Treasures is the first book of four in the Katie Weldon series. I enjoyed this series because it realistically portrays how God works in someone’s life. It showed how God prepares you for the things He wants you to do by weaving the desires of your heart into His plan. And even when things don’t seem to work out, there is a purpose for them in your life which can help you grow. Also, Katie and Rick’s relationship in the stories provides a good, Christian model to follow.

We are recommending Peculiar Treasures for older teens and college-age students. It is categorized as a romance, but it is not a typical romance.  The series continues with On a Whim, Coming Attractions and Finally & Forever.

Books 4 Christian Kids also reviewed two other books by Robin Jones Gunn Summer Promise and A Whisper and a Wish . These novels follow Katie’s best friend, Christy Miller.

J. D. Rempel , is a graduate of Simpson College. She is endeavoring to pen a YA science fiction novel and an adult fantasy series. Currently, she is seeking a publisher for her middle grade fiction novel. J. D. loves to read, work with her husband in youth ministry, and play peekaboo with her turtle, Applesauce. 




A Horse to Love written by Marsha Hubler (Keystone Stables) and published by Zonderkidz (2004, 2009) is a page-turner.

Skye Nicholson is a troubled teen. When the novel opens, her life is at a crossroads. A judge is about to sentence her to a juvenile detention center. Though only thirteen, this is not Skye’s first run in with the law. She already has a criminal record and the attitude to match. But God sees beyond Skye’s past and beneath her anger. He steps into her life in the form of Eileen Chambers, her husband and their special needs dude ranch. The Chambers offer to be Skye’s new foster parents.

At the dude ranch Skye learns to ride and care for a Quarter horse—Champ. Skye’s growing love for Champ and the horse’s affection for her have a positive effect on her. She decides to keep the rules that the Chambers have laid out because it means that she can be with Champ. But it is not only the horse that helps Skye grow and change.

The Chambers, a Christian couple, respect and encourage her while still being clear and firm. Morgan, another foster child living with the Chambers, also helps Skye see the world differently. Despite being in a wheelchair and abandoned a number of years ago by her mother because of her disability, Morgan is determined to make the most of her life, to have dreams and to follow them.

Skye’s changes do not come effortlessly–for anyone. She has been hurt and she is on the defensive. There are strong temptations for her; and there are missteps. Readers (I think it is best suited to readers, 11- to 13-year-olds) will root for Skye, watching her wrestle with her decisions, struggling with her, and hoping that she will find a way to accept and embrace the better life that is being offered to her. (FYI: the novel does end on a high note.)

This is the first novel in a series of eight. I think if your child enjoys this novel, they will want to read more books in the series. Reading the blurbs on the other novels, I see that the child-characters often deal with issues that are quite serious. This type of “realistic” writing is very, very popular in the secular market. This might concern you. You are not alone. It troubles me. Kids, in my opinion, are being inundated with books that portray some of the more extreme elements of teen life. The kids are not prepared emotionally or psychologically to deal with this flood. I think we would be wise to be choosy about how many and which books we promote to the kids.

That said, I am impressed with the way that Marsha Hubler handles the problems of a troubled teen. Letting the reader see God in action was thrilling and uplifting. I expect that other books in the series will also help young readers know something of life’s harsher experiences, but not frighten them. In the stories they will see that He is with us.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels 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.

Happy Easter!!!!

From Nancy —Spring Break is upon us in some parts of the country. I think a good read, an escape from school work, is definitely called for. And for teens and better upper elementary school readers, what could be more inspiring than Ben Hur? Here’s Donna’s review of this great classic.

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace, is a much beloved and acclaimed story read by millions. It begins with a retelling of the nativity of Christ and then moves into the life of Judah Ben Hur, a wealthy young man living in first century Jerusalem. Messala, his boyhood friend and a Roman, returns from soldiering, changed in his view of the world. When he cannot convince Ben Hur to embrace his cause, Messala betrays his friend, sending him on a journey through trials and victories. Eventually the two men face each other once more, meeting as opponents in a high-stakes chariot race.

Now also a man, Christ re-enters the narrative. His gentle influence has a profound effect on Ben Hur. Wallace illustrates how choices for good or evil, when fully embraced, mark a person’s life.

The author tells a compelling tale, particularly in his ability to define the inner journey, not only of the hero, but also of a large cast of supporting characters. Vivid scenes stay with the reader after the book is closed. However, the style of writing reflects the tastes of Wallace’s time (1880s). By current standards it may seem wordy and slow. The point of view is omniscient, which is rarely employed in contemporary books. Although historical and political details are meticulously researched, personal and cultural descriptions seem more imaginative than realistic.

Another feature distinguishing Ben Hur from modern novels is the explanation, once conflicts are past, of what happens to characters followed faithfully through its pages. Ben Hur, rather than leaving the reader wanting more, offers satisfaction that the story is complete.

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.

7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness was written by Eric Metaxas and published by Thomas Nelson (2016). In this book, best-selling author Eric Metaxas tells of seven men who allowed God to use them as a vessel to do great things. Some changed the course of human history; some stood up when no one else would; and, all made a sacrifice for faith. The seven men are George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II  and Charles W. Colson.

George Washington, refused the temptation to become king of the United States, after the American colonies defeated the British during the Revolutionary War. At the time, the young nation was vulnerable, and most likely would have accepted a king. Instead, Washington retired from military service. He was selected to represent Virginia at the Constitutional Convention, where he was elected as the convention president. Later in 1789, he was voted in as the first president under the Constitution.

William Wilberforce was partly raised by his Methodist aunt and uncle. They introduced him to the teachings of John Newton, a former slave trade captain. While serving as a member of the House of Commons, Wilberforce experienced a revival of the beliefs and teachings he knew as young boy. He made it his personal mission to get the House of Commons to pass a law banning the slave trade in the British Empire.

Eric Liddell was born to British missionaries serving in China. Though it might mean that he would lose his chance to win an Olympic gold medal, he refused to go against his religious convictions of observing the Sunday sabbath. He also became a missionary to China during the 1930’s and 1940’s. When others left that war-torn country, he did not.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian. He believed the Jews were God’s people. He gave up safety in the United States to go back to Germany, to stand up to the Nazis and to speak out against the their treatment of the Jews. He was arrested, imprisoned for some time and later executed.

Jackie Robinson was born to sharecroppers in Georgia. A few months later his father left. Jackie’s mother saved money to move her family to Southern California where the children grew up. The Robinson boys were active in sports and grew up with the Bible. A Methodist preacher led Jackie Robinson to the Lord.

It was discovered as time passed that Jackie was a great baseball player. If he had been white, he would have been drafted, but at the time there were no African-American players in the major leagues. All of that changed when Robinson met Branch Rickey, who would sign him to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jackie was selected because Rickey saw him as a Christian and a man who could hold his silence, letting the crowd not get to him.

In spring of 1946, it was official–Robinson would play in the major leagues in the Dodgers organization. He played and remained silent despite the mean words said. Within a few weeks the entire Brooklyn team was on Jackie’s side.

Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) grew up a Polish Catholic. During the first part of the German occupation of Poland, he worked in the industrial labor field to make a living for himself and his elderly father. One day he came home from work and found his father had died. Devastated, Karol prayed all night. Out of the sad events he realized his true calling and decided to enter the priesthood. This was a great risk during the Nazi occupation. Twice during these years of studying at secret seminaries he almost lost his life.

In the summer of 1978, now a cardinal, Karol Wojtyla voted in conclave for a new pope, but he never thought he would become pope as well. Within 33 days of that election, another conclave was called as the new pope had died. Cardinal Wojtyla had no idea that he would face a decision that would change his life. He was elected pope. He said “It is God’s will, I accept.”

Charles W. Colson, as a young man, worked hard to get Richard Nixon elected. After the election of 1972, it became evident that the White House was involved in a scandal. Colson was charged with obstruction of justice, plead guilty and was sentenced to prison. Prior to entering prison he had an encounter with God leaving him praying for his salvation. In prison he began to lead Bible studies and prayer groups. When he was released, the prisoners said do not forget us. He did not. He founded the ministry Prison Fellowship.

Each of these seven men God used to change the world. Merely ordinary men, all answered the call when God used them to influence history.

I encourage you, high school boys, to read 7 Men, discuss your own interests, and consider how God can use you to do amazing things. Who knows, you might be in a history book one day. Even if you are not, God would like to use you in many good ways.  For me the verse that comes to mind when writing this is Jeremiah 29:11.

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

When Patsy sent me her review of A Whisper and a Wish, it jogged my memory that Kristina had reviewed the same book sometime back. I was going to call Patsy and say sorry, but then I began thinking maybe one our readers has been looking for just such a book. (God moves in our lives in mysterious ways and He doesn’t clue me in on most of His plans.) So . . . I posted both Patsy’s review and Kristina’s. As you will see, while Patsy and Kristina each love the book, they each come at it a little differently. — Nancy

A Whisper and a Wish, written by Robin Jones Gunn and published by Focus on the Family Publishing, will delight and entertain girls, ages 12-16, while teaching them valuable lessons about living for the Lord.

Fifteen-year-old Christy Miller is thrilled when her family decides to move from Wisconsin to California. She has already spent the summer with Aunt Marti and Uncle Bob, who live in Newport Beach. She has made friends and even met someone special, Todd.

Unfortunately, even though Todd’s dad is in Newport Beach, Todd is going to Florida for the year to stay with his mom. That is one of Christy’s first disappointments. Another is  learning that her family will not be living in Newport Beach, but in Escondido which is more inland and farther away.

She makes a few friends, Brittany and Janelle. They introduce her to a young man, Rick, that they admire. Christy keeps running into Rick, but always in embarrassing situations. She still likes Todd, but he has not written to her once.

Christy is a Christian and wants to follow the Lord, but she is finding that as things come up,  she isn’t always sure how the Lord would want her to respond. She keeps praying, asking the Lord for help, yet one of her new friends brings her some trouble that leads to a run in with the police. More challenges come her way. This story is full of subjects young women can relate too, including peer pressure and wisdom in dating relationships. (Christy’s parents won’t let her date until she is sixteen.)

Christy is learning that God wants her to whisper an important word to Him. She needs to stop worrying so much about what she should say no to, and think more about saying yes to the Lord and all the things He has in store for her. She learns that spending time with other Christians is important as well as reading God’s word and attending church. In the end, she learns that God has a very special plan for her life and brings her a friend who wants to encourage her in her faith and follow Him as well.

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.”


A Whisper and a Wish by Robin Jones Gunn is volume 2 in The Christy Miller Series. It introduces Rick and Katie as friends of Christy. Both will help shape Christy’s life in her high school years. At the end of the first book Christy thinks about her experience in California and knows she wants to come back for college or a visit one day. Christy discovers that she will be moving to California sooner then she expects. She thinks she will be back with her beach friends in Newport. She is a little disappointed to learn she will be two hours away in a small town not near the ocean.

As school starts Christy is excited to be seen with the popular crowd. Everything seems to be going well for her and her friends. Brittany is a popular girl who seems nice. However, she has some secrets that will cause trouble for Christy. At a sleepover party with her friends Janelle, Katie and Brittany, Christy finds out that Brittany is making herself sick whenever she eats. She later finds out Brittany is taking prescription diet pills prescribed for Brittany’s mother. Christy also discovers that Janelle and Katie are new Christians and attend a local church. The girls quickly invite Christy to attend the youth group on Sunday morning. At the youth group Christy meets Rick.

Christy is invited by her aunt and uncle to visit Palm Springs with them for an extended weekend, and they allow her to bring two friends. Brittany and Janelle are delighted to go and everything seems perfect until Brittany drags both Christy and Janelle into her problem. Christy learns quickly that she must rely on God for wisdom.

A Whisper and a Wish is a great help to parents. The story reminds teenagers to choose their friends wisely. Christy learns about the serious issues of appearance and what some girls will do for attention. In recent weeks there have been reports on the news about prescription drug abuse. Many teens say it is easy to get drugs from the medicine cabinet. Also parents need to know the warning signs of eating disorders which could lead to serious health problems or death.

This book is for teenage girls 13 -17. Christy is 14 in Book 1 and is 17 at the end of the series.

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

The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story was written by Diane Ackerman and published by W. W. Norton & Company (2008). It has 349 pages and tells the true story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, Christian zookeepers in Warsaw, Poland, prior to and during World War II.

In 1929, Jan was given the position of director at the Warsaw Zoo.  Jan and Antonina were married in 1931 and began their work together at the zoo.

It is worth noting that prior to this time many zoos were private. Poland dreamed of having a zoo that rivaled that of Germany. The Warsaw Zoo, as part of its innovations, was one of the first to have enclosures similar to a modern zoo where animals are not kept in cages but rather are free to move about in enclosures.

In 1932, Jan and Antonina had a son whom they named Ryszard (Rys). He grew up in the villa on the zoo property where he learned to love and care for the animals, even walking a pig and a badger. Both Jan and Antonina took great pride in the animals and in caring for them.

Just before dawn on September 1, 1939, Antonina was awakened by the sound of engines. She and Jan soon learned of the German invasion. They fled Warsaw, leaving behind their animals. When they returned a few days later, they found most of the animals were dead or gone. On September 7,  42-year-old Jan was selected as an able-bodied man to join the Polish army at the northwestern front. All civilians were ordered to vacate the zoo immediately. Once again Antonina and Rys left the zoo, not to return until after the surrender of the Polish troops.

By March of 1940, Poland now under full Nazi occupation, Jan began a pig farm on the zoo grounds. Despite the rationing, Antonia was able to bake bread from the grain she purchased from her sister-in-law. By the end of spring piglets were born. Jan also became part of the Polish Resistance and Underground, smuggling weapons, people, and some Jews.

The Warsaw Zoo was near Old Town. Just beyond that was the Jewish Quarter where about 300,000 Jews lived in the thriving, then modern city of Warsaw.

During the 20th century antisemitism had grown in Poland and with the occupation a Department of Racial Purity was established. The persecution of Jews began with calorie counts, (Germans 2,613, Poles 669, and Jews 184). Jews were also forbidden to be in restaurants, public parks, or use public toilets and city benches. Each Jew was given a Star of David to wear on the their outer clothing; Jews in civil service were fired; Jewish lawyers disbarred; and, Jewish doctors were forced to stop practicing. Finally the Jews were ordered to the north section of the city and into the Ghetto.

In the summer of 1940, Jan began to accept Jews to stay at the zoo.  Some stayed only temporarily and some stayed for years. The old animal enclosures provided a place to hide the Jews. In addition other “guests” stayed at the zoo including Jan’s mother, friends, and Irene Sendler.

As the war pressed on, Jan and Antonina did what they could to save their family, preserve the spirit of the zoo, and show respect for animals and for people of all races. The book tells of the challenges they faced and overcame living under the fearsome German occupation.

This book is written by a naturalist who has a different writing style and perspective than a historian. However, as a historian, I think this book is well written and a good story about life at the Warsaw Zoo before, during and after World War II. The Zookeeper’s Wife does have some details that might need to be discussed with an adult. I would recommend this book for upper level high school students interested in World War II history and adults interested in World War II. In the back of the version I read are discussion questions which could be used by a reading group or by a parent and teen reading the book together.

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


The time between Christmas and New Year’s is a lovely time for the kids to unwind and savor the goodness of God. Here are some book suggestions that might just be the right thing.

For your YA:

The Boys in the Boat— the true, inspiring story of the young men, who to everyone’s surprise, won Olympic gold in rowing at the 1936 Olympics.

A Christmas Gift for Rose–an uplifting story about God’s provision and care. A young Amish woman discovers the story of her parentage.

First Date–a contemporary novel with small nods to the story of Esther from the Old Testament. Teenage American girls in a  beauty pageant compete for a first date with the President’s son.

Found in Translation–a humorous and heart-warming novel of a young woman’s adventures and misadventures on her first short-term mission trip.

God’s Smuggler–a true and thrilling story of Brother Andrew, who smuggled Bibles into countries closed to Christianity.

Oxygen–science fiction, a space crew traveling to Mars suspect that one of them is a saboteur.

Thunder Dog— the story of  Roselle, the guide dog who helped the blind Michael Hingson and those who were with him escape the plane-struck Tower 1 on 9/11.

For middle schoolers:

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

Nick Newton Is Not a Genius–fun, wacky characters in a steampunk setting. An average kid with a lot of grit finds adventure when he tries to put together a clockwork bird.

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 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


Working in youth ministries, my heart squeezes with sorrow and fills with compassion as I see all of the things our youth face today. They are surrounded by the world’s standards and expectations, and put into highly stressful situations. I try to encourage the young ladies in our youth group, but there is only so much I can do because of their busy schedules and limited time.

ADORED: 365 Devotions for Young Women is a quick devotional which provides sound biblical doctrine, and is relatable to today’s young women. Geared toward teen girls, it emphasizes how they can strengthen their relationship with God through reading and studying God’s Word. It also shows them how they are adored daughters of God, how important and valued they are. The author illustrates to the reader that God made them with special gifts and talents and how they can contribute to the heavenly kingdom.

The devotional speaks in a gentle and conversational manner without being preachy. It challenges the reader to think about what it means to be a child of God and to be adored and loved by Him. It encourages young women to make wise, godly choices. Topics include modesty, self-esteem, idols, serving in the church, being yourself and not following the crowd, working hard, following through with commitments, friendship with the world and many more.

I was so excited that it touched on so many problems and issues our teens go through. I would have loved to have read this devotional when I was their age, but I enjoyed reading it as an adult and learned some things myself.

Each daily devotional takes about a minute to read. Beginning with a verse, it leads into the subject which is covered in a few paragraphs. The author makes a statement or asks a question, gives the reader the biblical answer, and then shows them how to apply it to their lives. It also includes space for journaling and has many Scripture references. The cover art and page edging is charming and attractive with a blue and gold design.

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women would make a lovely gift for the teen girl or even the college-age young woman in your life. It is written by Lindsay A. Franklin and published by Zondervan (2017).

J. D.  Rempel , is a graduate of Simpson College. She is endeavoring to pen a YA science fiction novel and an adult fantasy series. Currently, she is seeking a publisher for her middle grade fiction novel. J. D. loves to read, work with her husband in youth ministry, and play peekaboo with her turtle, Applesauce. 


From Nancy –

October 31, 2017, Tuesday, is Halloween here in the States. It is also the 500th anniversary of what many people consider the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther, so it has been said, on the eve of All Hallows (All Saints Day) attached a document with 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. Everyone had to attend church on All Saints Day, so Luther, a university professor of biblical studies, tacked up his theses expecting people to read them, to consider them and even to debate them. From what I’ve been told, he didn’t expect an upheaval or a radical change in the culture. However, that is what happened.

Luther was an interesting, complex man. His life and times were both exciting and challenging. Donna reviewed a book about him. She thought it a good read. I think she’s right. I’m re-running her review below in case you missed it.


When Lightning Struck: The Story of Martin Luther was written by Danika Cooley and published by Fortress Press (2015). This historical novel on the life of Martin Luther, the German theologian credited with starting the Reformation movement in the 1500s, is impressive. Danika Cooley works hard to combine storytelling with historical fact, weaving period details into narrative and quotes from historical documents into dialog. The book does an excellent job of making history accessible to the reader.

It begins when Luther, on his way to law school, scurries under a large tree for protection during a thunderstorm. Lightning strikes the tree, raining down fiery debris around him, and Luther vows that if he survives he will become a priest.

Martin’s father, a successful businessman, is a strict man whom Martin equally fears and loves. His mother tells him tales of superstition and myth. His father has sent him to school to become a lawyer so the boy will be able to support them in their old age.

When Luther tells his family and friends that he is changing professions, they are stunned and angry. They try to dissuade him, but Martin enters a monastery. He works his way up, through study and self-discipline, to priest, Doctor of Theology, and university professor.

Luther is pursued by a sense of guilt and the fear of an angry God. He fasts himself into gauntness, sleeps on the cold stone floor of his cell, and confesses sins constantly. He is consumed with hopelessness at his inability to shorten the time after death that he expects to spend in purgatory before entering the realm of heaven.

A mentor gives Luther a copy of the Bible. In it, Martin Luther begins to see glimmers of God’s love and grace. He spends hours studying it and teaching from it to his students.

Sent on a trip to Rome, Luther is shocked by the sin and luxury he sees among the priests and nuns there. He also finds little comfort in the holy sites he visits and the holy relics he views.

After this he discovers in scripture that salvation comes by faith alone. He also begins to see God as a source of love. He teaches this “New Theology” in his classes and writes about it.

When the buying of indulgences to shorten one’s time in purgatory or to purchase forgiveness from sins begins to empty the pockets of his poor neighbors, Luther writes a list of objections to their sale and posts it in his town—Wittenberg—for local debate. A printer makes copies and sends them far and wide, creating shock waves across the Roman Catholic Church.

Luther tries to bring change within the Roman Catholic Church, but arguments between him and its leaders become so strident that Luther and the leaders break with one another. The Protestant Reformation begins with sweeping changes to the priesthood, to forms of worship, and to theological teaching across Germany. Luther’s personal life is transformed as he works out what biblical teachings mean for himself and the society in which he lives.

This dramatized biography describes a man who transformed Christendom by his teaching, writing, Bible translation, song compositions, and the very force of his life. Yet it also paints a picture of personal struggles and flawed character. It shows the life journey of one trying to balance the spiritual and secular powers of his time, as we all do.

Approximately 250 pages, this book is best for Young Adult readers. It is sold on and in hardcover and e-book formats.


Nancy here again – A few weeks back I caught a docudrama on PBS, Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World. I thought it was thoughtful, informative and well-balanced. It was worth my time watching it. There may be a  re-broadcast in your area. A DVD of it will become available through Amazon. com, but not until November 21.


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. 

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels 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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