46 Children’s Books to Foster the Love of Reading and Learning – J. Faber

This children’s book feature article by Janet Faber appeared Sept.2, 2017 on the Reformed Perspective website. In it Faber gives us “46 children’s books to foster the love of reading and learning.” As you will learn from the introduction below, this particular list is designed for early readers, which means they are mostly “picture books” designed to be shown and read to young children.

I believe you will benefit from this list, whether you are parents of young children or, in my case, grandparents. And, by the way, I have found a great place to gather good children’s books is the local Thrift store. Many good condition, hardcover treasures await you in the children’s book section. Check it out sometime.

We are “People of the Book” so reading should be, and is very important, to us. The goal of all reading is to become readers of the Good Book. It is not enough to teach our children the ability to read; we must also nurture our children to be aware that the content of books should lead us to the author of the Good Book. The following is a treasure trove of books that tries to help with attaining that goal.

To make a list of favorite books is a daunting task. No sooner is the list completed and another treasure is found and could be added to the repertoire of great books. I hope you get reacquainted with some of your favorites and that your own list of great books will grow. Almost all of these selections are picture books that preschoolers and children in the early grades will enjoy, but there are several “chapter books” which are intended for children who are in at least Grade One or Two (these exceptions are noted in the reviews that follow).

Happy reading with your children!

And here is a sample from her first list (I love the heading to this one!):

OLDIE GOLDIES

Some books are timeless gems. Even though they have been written many years ago, these classics have stood the test of time and continue to appeal to children today. On occasion these classics have been updated – “Disneyfied” – and have lost a lot of their substance, so make sure your read the original version.

 

Make way for the duckling
by Robert McCloskey
Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are looking for just the right place to raise their brood of duckling in New York City.

Caps for sale
by Esphyr Slobodkina
Some monkeys take on the saying of “Monkey see, monkey do” and get into monkey business with a hat peddler.

Tikki Tikki Tembo
by Arlene Mosel
Help is slow to come for a Chinese boy with a long name who falls into a well.

Frog and Toad are friends
by Arnold Lobel
Get every Frog and Toad book in this series and you will not be disappointed.

The story of Ping
by Marjorie Flack
First published back in 1933, this is the story of a funny duck and his misadventures living on the Yangze River.

The world of Pooh
by A.A. Milne
Watch out for the many Disneyfied versions of this story, as only the classic orginal retains the author’s lyrical charm. This is a chapter book, so it might seem to be something intended for grade school children, but even young children are likely to enjoy it.

Joseph had a little overcoat
by Simms Taback
Joseph’s worn coat becomes smaller pieces of clothing until he makes it into a button that he then loses, but that is not the end for, “You can always make something out of nothing.”

Stone soup
by Marcia Brown
When hungry soldiers come to a town of greedy inhabitants, they set out to make a soup of water and stones and the whole town enjoys the feast.

The tale of Peter Rabbit
by Beatrix Potter
Mrs. Rabbit tells her bunnies not to go into Mr. McGregor’s garden, but Peter does not listen and gets into all kinds of mischief.

Source: 46 children’s books to foster the love of reading and learning – Reformed Perspective

Published in: on September 6, 2017 at 6:14 AM  Leave a Comment  

How to get our boys to read – Reformed Perspective

This short article appeared last month (July 14, 2017) on the digital version of Reformed Perspective and was written by editor Jon Dykstra.

Though brief, the article is worth your time, especially if you have boys who may not be interested in reading, or are interested in reading the kind of “potty humor” books referred to here. Dykstra calls us to aim higher with our sons and grandsons, and I couldn’t agree more.

Below is the beginning of the article; find the rest at the link below.

And if you are looking for some good ideas for children’s lit or for adult lit, check out the related site Really Good Reads for reviews and recommendations from a Christian perspective.

In a 2010 Wall Street Journal article, Thomas Spence argues that the way some “experts” were trying to encourage boys to read was all wrong. Their strategy involved pitching boys books like Goosebumps, Sir Fartsalot, Captain Underpants and The Day My Butt Went Psycho. If we want boys to read, so this line of thinking goes, then let’s give them the potty humor they adore. That’ll make them readers, right?

It might get some reading, but what it won’t do is give them any of the benefits that come from reading good books. Thomas Spence insists that instead of “meeting [boys] where they are at” we need to aim higher, and he quotes C.S. Lewis:

“The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting, and hateful.”

If we point our sons to what’s disgusting and encourage their interest, how can we expect them to learn and appreciate what is good? How can our boys become men if, instead of training them up in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6), we reinforce their childishness? Instead of the gross, we need to fill our shelves with what’s great. We need to give our boys examples to aspire to, in books like Encyclopedia Brown, Saint George and the Dragon, The Green Ember, The Hobbit, Journey Through the Night, and Wambu: The Chieftain’s Son.

Of course, it’s one thing to stock our shelves, and another to get our boys to pull books off of them. How do we get them reading?

Two tips: start early, and get rid of the distractions.

Source: How to get our boys to read – Reformed Perspective

Published in: on August 16, 2017 at 7:06 AM  Leave a Comment  

Becoming part of the “bigger story” – A. McGrath

Lunch-with-Lewis-McGrathLewis deftly shows how the stories of the individual children – particularly Lucy, who is in many ways the central human character of the series [Chronicles of Narnia] – become shaped by the story of Aslan. Lucy’s love for Aslan is expressed in her commitment to him. She wants to do what he wants; she wants her story to reflect who he is. As a result, Lewis speaks of Lucy feeling ‘lion-strength’ flowing within her. She has become part of the story of Aslan. But – and this is a hugely important ‘but’ – she has not lost her own identity. Her story remains her own. However, her story now makes more sense because Lucy has gained a sense of value and meaning. By embracing the story of Aslan as central to her story, she has gained a new sense of identity and purpose.

This McGrath further explains biblically in the next paragraph:

Lewis here develops a New Testament theme which has a long history of exploration within the Christian faith. It is stated with particular clarity in Paul’s letter to the Galatians: ‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:19-20). Faith involves putting to death the old self and rising to a new life. We do not lose our individuality; rather, we gain a new identity while still remaining individuals who are loved by God. In other words, we become new individuals without ceasing to be individuals.

And then he shows again how this works out in the Narnia series:

Lewis reworks this theme in his Chronicles of Narnia. …Lucy and the other children realise there is a ‘bigger story,’ and long to become part of it. And they die to themselves, in that they relocate and recontextualise their own stories within this ‘grand narrative.’ They die to themselves, and live for Aslan. They surrender a self-centred story, and replace it with an Aslan-centred story. This not only makes more sense of things, it also gives them purpose, value, and meaning.

Taken from If I Had Lunch With C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C.S. Lewis by Alistair McGrath (Tyndale, 2014), a Kindle book I am continuing to read this summer. This is part of chapter 3, “A Story-Shaped World,” where McGrath treats “C.S. Lewis and the Importance of Stories.”

At the beginning of this chapter the author quotes Lewis in The Horse and His Boy: “Child,” said the Voice [of Aslan], ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

Published in: on August 9, 2017 at 7:23 AM  Leave a Comment  

2017 Reformation Books for Children – ABCs and More!

Looking for good books for your children during this year of celebrating the great Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary? I have a fine one for you, one I purchased this week and read through last night.

Ref-ABCs-Nichols-2017

Reformation ABCs: The People, Places, and Things of the Reformation from A to Z is a wonderful children’s “ABC” book written by Stephen J. Nichols (author) and Ned Bustard (author/illustrator) and published by Crossway (2017). The publisher gives this description:

Reformation ABCs is a fun way for kids to learn about the places, things, events, people, books, and ideas that shaped this pivotal time in church history. Through whimsical illustrations and engaging storytelling, this book teaches kids that even though the Reformation occurred five hundred years ago, it isn’t just about people and places in the past. The Reformers’ fight to reclaim the gospel is still relevant today.

To give you an idea of what’s inside, under “A” the book has “A is for ants, artists, and Augustine” (showing how the Reformation was a return to the theology of St. Augustine); “H” has “H is for hippos, hats, and Heidelberg” (a nice tribute to the Heidelberg Catechism)’ “T” has “T is for torch, trains, and Tyndale” (pointing out the significant Bible translation work of this godly man and martyr). One of my favorites was what they had for “Y” – “Y is for yellow, yodeling, and YOU,” part of which says this:

The Reformers wanted children to learn the Bible. Every morning Martin Luther opened his doors, and young boys and girls ran across his yard and gathered around his dining table to be taught. Since all of the German boys and girls could not fit around his table, he wrote a catechism for them. The Reformers in Heidelberg wrote a catechism. And the Reformers at Westminster wrote a catechism. All of these catechisms had one purpose: to teach boys and girls the Bible, the gospel, and the truth of the Christian faith. When these young boys and girls grew up, they became the next Reformers. And for centuries God has given the church Reformers. You are the next Reformer.

The back part of the book includes a section on “Reformation by the Numbers” (noting the significant numbers associated with the movement, such as Luther’s  95 Theses and the 5 solas of the Reformation) and a Reformation timeline.

I highly recommend this book to you. If you buy one Reformation children’s book this year, make this the one. In light of my post on Tuesday of this week about reading to your children, this would make an excellent one to use. Read it to your young children and let the young readers in your home read it again on their own. And, grandparents, this would make a great gift for your grandchildren. That’s what I bought it for. 🙂

PMVermigli-Carr-2017

Also, do not forget the wonderful church history series Reformation Heritage Books publishes, “Christian Biographies for Young Readers” series, featuring Reformed author Simonetta Carr. This series includes Reformation titles on Martin Luther,  John Calvin, John Knox, Lady Jane Grey, and the newest, Peter Martyr Vermigli. Here’s a video on that title:

Raising readers: the surprising power of reading aloud – Reformed Perspective

Once again an article has appeared (in my email box this morning, in fact!) about the benefits of reading to our children, beginning at an early age. Amanda Poppe posted the article “Raising Readers: The Surprising Power of Reading Aloud” last week on the Reformed Perspective website (July 27).

I always find these types of article encouraging, and we parents and grandparents need the constant reminder of the power that reading TO our children has. So, by all means, read this brief post and be encouraged to begin and carry on this valuable practice with your children. And, of course, model good reading to them by reading yourself!

Below are the opening paragraphs of the article; find the rest at the link below.

Of all the skills our children need to master, reading is at the top of the list. Children who read fluently do well in school, while poor readers struggle because the entire curriculum is based on the ability to read. Reading opens up incredible opportunities; in contrast, illiteracy is related to poverty and crime.

But success in life is not our main motive for raising readers. We want our children to love words so that they will be daily readers of the Word. The Bible is a challenging book, and our children need to be able to read and understand it in order to grow in their relationship with God. That’s why raising readers is a priority for Christians.

 Start early…

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease provides a valuable resource for parents, teachers and anyone else involved with children. With carefully documented research and compelling stories, he tells us the most important thing we must do is read aloud to our children. Trelease points out that reading is like any other skill: you get better at it by doing it.

But how do we get our kids to want to read in the first place? Children gravitate to activities they find enjoyable. How do we give them a love for reading?

We must read to them daily. Reading aloud brings to life the characters, places and adventures that are hidden between the covers of books. Children learn that books hold exciting stories. Young children associate books with cuddle times with their favorite person. As the family matures, books become the vehicle for countless conversations and laughs, shared memories and ideas. In this environment, children naturally fall in love with books.

At the end of the post is this helpful summary of the main points Trelease makes in his book on reading aloud to children. Here is the first section:

MAKE READING OUT LOUD A PRIORITY

  • Make it a habit by setting a specific time. Doesn’t matter when – before bed, after lunch, naptime, or school – it just has to be a daily appointment.
  • Model reading. Children should see you reading for enjoyment.
  • Have books in the house.
  • Visit the library regularly.
  • Read out loud every day for a minimum of 15 minutes.
  • Keep reading to children even after they learn to read.
  • Get the grandparents reading to your kids.
  • Read to your infants – long before they can talk, they are language sponges.

Source: Raising readers: the surprising power of reading aloud – Reformed Perspective

By the way, it would be worth your while to sign up to receive a summary of the articles posted at Reformed Perspective. A variety of relevant subjects and news items are reviewed each week from the perspective of the Reformed world and life view (Scripture and the creeds).

Reading Jules Verne This Summer Could Introduce Endless Adventure

This informative and challenging post appeared earlier this month (July 6, 2017) on The Federalist. In it Jamie Gass points to studies that show that students who read during the summer months are better prepared for school in the Fall. And to encourage students to read books that are adventurous as well as educational, Gass points to the works of French novelist Jules Verne.

Even though we are well into the summer months, it is not too late to get your child or teen to spend some time reading good literature in the month leading up to the start of the new school year.

Below you will find the opening paragraphs of the article and then part of the section that references Verne’s writings.

“[M]y task is to paint the whole earth, the entire world, in novel form, by imagining adventures,” wrote the renowned, late-nineteenth-century French novelist Jules Verne.

As vacation begins, decades of K-12 education research tells us that summertime is when the academic paths of higher- and lower-performing students most radically diverge. According to Scholastic Reading Challenge, “the ‘Summer Slide’ accounts for as much as 85 percent of the reading achievement gap.”

Simply put, studies support what common sense makes plain: students who read during the summer return to school much better prepared than their classmates do. Meanwhile, great fiction that offers higher-quality vocabulary, complex plots, and engaging characters can positively shape young minds.

A little later in the article the author comments on the significance and value of Verne’s works:

Monsieur Verne is considered the “father of science fiction” for his books “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (1864); “From the Earth to the Moon” (1865); “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” (1870); and “Around the World in Eighty Days” (1873), which are the most noted of his “Extraordinary Voyages.” Verne’s 60-plus classic works have been translated into 174 languages.

Verne’s voyages value literature, history, geography, math, science, and high-tech engineering. Few authors are capable of propelling students’ imaginations while simultaneously surveying such varied academic disciplines. Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy called Verne’s books “matchless.” Since 1979, UNESCO’s Index Translationum reports, Verne is the second most-translated author on earth, outpacing Shakespeare and trailing only Agatha Christie.Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” ranks as the seventh most-translated book in the world, surpassing “Harry Potter,”Alice in Wonderland,” and even Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales.

Source: Reading Jules Verne This Summer Could Introduce Endless Adventure

If you want to get started reading Around the World in Eighty Days, visit this Project Gutenberg link.

My First Brian Jacques Book: “Castaways of the Flying Dutchman”

While thrifting (shopping local thrift stores for used books) this Spring I stumbled on a Brian Jacques book with which I was unfamiliar.

Of course, those who know this author know him for his famous Redwall series, which my youngest sons read in their youth and now some of my grandsons are doing. I have seen those books but never read any myself.

castaways-jacques-2001But then I came on Castaways of the Flying Dutchman (Philomel Books, 2001) and I was drawn in. Since I needed a new “light reading” book and I enjoy sailing stories, I dug in. I just finished it tonight, and I must say, if this is typical of Jacques’ writing, I am hooked! Though this fictional title is designed for young teenagers, I would say, it makes a fine read for adults too. It simply is a great story told extremely well. The author’s style is very descriptive, perhaps because, like his Redwall series, this too was written for blind children in a school for whom he delivered milk.

In any case, here is the publisher’s description as found on the author’s website linked above:

The Flying Dutchman! The legend of the wind-tattered ghost ship and its mad sea captain, cursed to sail the seas forever, has been passed down throughout the centuries. But what of the boy and his dog who were trapped aboard that ship? What was to become of them?

Sent off on an eternal journey of their own by an avenging angel, the boy and dog roam the earth throughout the centuries in search of those in need. Braving wind and waves and countless perils, their travels lead them to Chapelvale, a sleepy 19th-century village whose very existence is at stake. Only by discovering the buried secrets and solving the dust-laden riddles of the ancient village can it be saved. This will take the will and wile of all the people – and a very special boy and dog.

What surprised me was the countless biblical and ecclesiastical references scattered throughout the story. In fact, the main part of the story centers on rescuing the town mentioned above, with clues involving the four gospel writers!

Below is just one example of the type of biblical references one finds in Castaways:

It was cool and shady in the old, low-beamed farmhouse, with its white washed walls, tile floor, and little bull’s-eye-paned windows. Will’s mother, Sarah, sat installed in her wing chair by the fireplace, a Bible upon her knee, listening carefully until Ben finished talking. She was a bright, alert little woman, quick and bird-like in her actions.

Drawing a knitted black shawl close around her narrow shoulders, she shook her head disapprovingly at Jon and his three young friends and tapped the Bible meaningfully. ‘Place named after the rock?’

‘Hah, I can tell you haven’t read your scriptures properly. But that’s no surprise. Most folk these days don’t seem to have the time to heed the word of the Lord!’

Will chided her gently. ‘Now now, Ma. Don’t take on so. Just ‘cos folks don’t study scripture all the time, doesn’t mean they ain’t good people. Look at me, I don’t read the Bible a lot, but I’m honest and hardworking.’

His mother gave him a hard stare. ‘Ye’d be a lot better if ye did, Will, an’ your friends, too. They should know what the Lord said to his disciple, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”! ‘Tis written here in the good book. So then, tell me, what’s the name o’ the church atop of this hill?

Will blurted out, ‘St. Peter’s!’

The old woman could not help looking slightly smug as she sat back, patting her Bible. ‘Tell me the rest of your puzzle.’ [pp.188-189]

There are some rough parts to the beginning of the book as Jacques tells the story of the Flying Dutchman and its Captain Vanderdecken, who trying the sail around Cape Horn in ferocious storms, curses heaven and earth (all part of the legend). But the book settles down nicely, focusing on Ben(jamin) and his faithful companion (dog) Ned.

Highly recommended. A great summer read – or any time of the year.

Published in: on June 10, 2017 at 10:45 PM  Comments (2)  

WORLD Magazine’s 2017 Children’s Books of the Year

170429 Cover

The latest issue of World magazine (vol.32, No.8) is a special one, calling attention to their 2017 children’s books of the year.
Below you will find a brief note that came with the email notice, which includes links to the three categories of books that were awarded.
This can be an excellent means to discover good books for your younger and older children. As always, discretion is assumed.
Visit the link below the find other headline news in this issue of the Christian news magazine.
2017 Children’s Books of the Year
WORLD’s selection of 2017 Children’s Books of the Year spans three categories: picture books, middle-grade novels, and middle-grade nonfiction.

Source: Vol. 32, No. 8 | WORLD News Group

Published in: on April 18, 2017 at 10:29 PM  Leave a Comment  

Little Golden Books – 75 Years Old!

Do you remember these classics from your childhood? I do! And from our children’s. And guess what, we still have some, stored away in boxes now.

This year these “golden” classics are celebrating 75 years! That’s right, they were introduced in 1942, at the time of WW II, in part to provide comfort and calm to children (for more on that watch the video below).

For more on these classics and their 2017 anniversary visit the Golden Book link below. As you see the covers, you will bring back fond memories from your youth. And, hopefully, stir up some desire to share these books with a new generation.

Happy reading!

Source: Little Golden Books

Here is a video that explains a bit of the history of these childhood treasures.

Save

Published in: on February 3, 2017 at 5:04 PM  Comments (1)  

100 Great Children’s Books – The New York Public Library

borrowers-nortonIf you are looking for help with children’s books, let me recommend this great list of 100 best children’s books over the last 100 years. It will serve as a good guide (with discretion) for building a family library of classics, with multiple age levels in mind.

Below is the introductory note that goes with the post, then a sample of a few titles from the “B” section (the list is in alphabetical order – a pdf is also available for easy printing and future reference).

Great stories never grow old! Chosen by children’s librarians at The New York Public Library, these 100 inspiring tales have thrilled generations of children and their parents — and are still flying off our shelves. Use this list and your library card to discover new worlds of wonder and adventure!

100 Great Children’s Books has been published on the occasion of The New York Public Library’s acclaimed exhibition The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter, on view at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The list was selected by The New York Public Library’s Jeanne Lamb, Coordinator, Youth Collections, and Elizabeth Bird, Supervising Librarian.

And here are a few samples from the “B” section:

The Birchbark House

by Louise Erdrich (1999)
A warm family story, rich with fascinating details of traditional Ojibwa life, in which 7-year-old Omakayas and her family grow food, hunt, and face a time of transition.

The Book of Three

by Lloyd Alexander (1964)
The heroic adventures of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper in the mythical kingdom of Prydain.

The Borrowers

by Mary Norton, illustrated by Beth Krush and Joe Krush (1953)
A small world is perfectly created in this fantasy about the miniature people who live beneath the floors of quiet old houses.

Source: 100 Great Children’s Books | 100 Years | The New York Public Library

Published in: on December 3, 2016 at 10:33 AM  Leave a Comment