Reading~The Hiding Place

thehidingplaceMy boys and I finished reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom over a month ago, and still I’m reflecting, talking, and even praying about these amazing God-fearing  people who lived not so long ago in Holland.  Oh Lord I pray,  let me respond to difficult circumstances and unkind people as Betsie did. Help me to have a grateful heart and to look for the good in every situation like she was able to do.  Oh Lord,  please allow me to learn to forgive those who have hurt me…just as Corrie learned to forgive.  And Lord may our home be as welcoming to friends and strangers  as their quaint Dutch home was during the scary years of the Nazi invasion in Holland. I remind my teenage young men to have  grateful hearts and to display  more grace with others just as the Boom family did.

This moving story will change your life if you allow,  and it will give you powerful tools to use when you face persecution, hardship or tribulation of any kind.

It begins in such an ordinary homey yet pleasant setting where you get to know the everyday comings and goings of the ten Boom family.  You learn they are devoted to practicing hospitality with all who enter their home and watchmakers shop.  You get to know their dear father who read from the scriptures each evening after dinner. Mostly though,  you learn that these folks lived out their faith by loving all people regardless of  ethnicity, religion  or position.  To the  ten Boom family, each person they came into contact with was worthy of respect and love because they were created in the image of God.corrie-ten-boom

Even though Corrie ten Boom and her family were regular folk they performed amazing and extraordinary tasks because they walked by faith all while being committed to  simply doing the right thing.  Because they hid many Jews whom they called “The apple of God’s eye” during the Nazi occupation of Holland, they were sent to concentration camps where they experienced profound horror, humiliation, and hunger.  Even in the midst of so much evil they continued to show God’s love and practice forgiveness.  How they could pray for,  love and even forgive the Nazi soldiers is beyond my comprehension but they did this not through their own strength or will but through the power of Christ. 

I highly recommend this book to homeschooling families.  Please read this to your children so that they will know more about this period of history and so that they will be able to see true Christianity in action.5254bd8d6f446a197cdaff9dcdab912d

By the way,  did you know that this book has been banned at  the Springs Charter school in Temecula, California?   Can you imagine a book about a family helping others escape the horrors of the Holocaust being pulled from the school shelves? Evidently the library attendants were told to remove all books with a Christian message, by a Christian author, or published by a Christian publishing company.  How ignorant and sad for these folks.  Perhaps they do not realize that much of the greatest literature of  Western Civilization was written by people of faith.  Indeed,they must eliminate many many wonderful books if this is their standard.

For more information and to visit the Ten Boom Museum click here.


The Giant Killer

the giant killerIf you are looking for a worthwhile, uplifting, and character building book for your next read-aloud session with your children,  consider reading The Giant Killer from Lamplighter publishing.  This story is a quick read that almost feels like a devotional because there so many opportunities to discuss matters of faith and obedience with your children…and examine your heart as well.

  • This story centers around a Victorian Christian family who have outwardly obedient yet prideful children .  The Roby family  is asked to care  and tutor the rowdy and headstrong twin brothers: Adolphus and Constantine who are their cousins.  Hoping to instill good behavior and humble hearts  in all of the children,  Mrs. Roby faithfully shares with  them the tales and adventures of   The Giant Killer. Through this allegorical tale about a knight facing the “giants,” the children learn of  the giants they must destroy through their own  Christian warfare,  which may include: sloth, hate,  pride, selfishness, and untruth.  They learn about overcoming these “giants” with the help of  “Conscience,” “Experience” and “The Chord of Love.”  Absolutely the best thing about this book may be that it offers one more tool to use when we face our own giants by remembering the lessons learned by the faithful knight as well as the Roby children.  Indeed as Christians, we are all in a battle with our very own flesh…our old man. This war  will not end until we meet our Savior face to face.  ~Anne


Twice Freed

twiceMy boys and I recently finished reading a historical fiction novel by my favorite author Patricia St. John.  Although  historical fiction has many benefits, reading Biblical fiction allows  us to gain a deeper understanding of the historical figures in scripture and this often leads to a richer experience while reading the Bible. After reading Twice Freed we thought differently about Paul, Philemon and Onesimus because they became more real to us.  Because Patricia St. John  includes historically accurate descriptions of the many regions spoken of in St. Paul’s Epistles, we felt compelled to read a few chapters  written by Paul as well. Twice Freed helped us to gain an appreciation for the difficulties and struggles of Paul, Philemon, and the early Christian church. Getting to know the Roman slave boy Onesimus,  and following his search for freedom and  love was moving and inspirational and as we learned more about his character we could not help caring about him….and hoping he would find what he was looking for. Understanding the pagan lifestyles of this period was also important for us because we really had no idea that  the early believers had to struggle against such strongholds and deeply held beliefs and customs. We are grateful to Patricia St. John for another wonderful book and because of her we will never read a Pauline epistle the same way again!

The Yearling

We finally finished reading The Yearling, and still I’m thinking about the characters.  It was a long book for us and written in a dialect we were not used to, but my heart became attached to these poor authentic country folks living in the backwoods of  post-civil war Florida who struggled to simply live and make ends meet. This story although considerably long on descriptions, was quite moving, tender and realistic.  I find myself thinking about this boy Jody, and wanting to know more.  I want to have coffee with the Mother Ora because I know her heart was lonely and sad.

One reason we decided to explore this particular book was because it is a definite boys book with plenty of  adventures…and yet it allows the reader to get an intimate view of the hardships, struggles and successes of the Baxter family. There were many adult themes in this story (death, starvation, rattle snake attacks, devastating floods etc.)  so I would hesitate to read to very young children, but the life lessons were so profound that I would not want to skip reading this at the proper age.

Although we’ve watched this old classic film several times, the book described in detail so much more than the movie did.  The film emphasized the relationship between the boy (Jody) and his pet fawn (flag).  In the novel the main relationship was between the boy and his dad.

Mama’s Bank Account

Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes is an easy and enjoyable read from beginning to end…especially if read with a Norwegian accent. 🙂  This story about a Norwegian American family living in San Francisco in 1910, is heart-warming and filled with important life lessons.  The story told by the oldest daughter (Katrin), is focused upon everyday family life, brothers, sisters, Papa….but mostly Mama.  Marta Hanson (Mama) has wisdom, mercy, understanding and plain old common sense brought with her from the old country.   She is proud of her Norwegian heritage but not living in the past, embraces all that America has to offer and eventually is more American than Norwegian.   So much of what Mama believes and values, reflects the American ideals that have made our country great.  Hard work, frugality,  family,  ingenuity, tenacity and sacrifice were some of the values that Mama tried to instill in her family.  She is also just stubborn enough to find a way when there was no way.  Her character is an inspiration to me because she really is the ultimate “keeper-at-home,” devoted to her family and husband (Lars).  This story also became a play and television series in the late 40’s.  If you want a relaxing escape from our modern rat-race make a nice cup of coffee (not tea) and read Mama’s bank account….don’t forget to read all of Mama’s words in a Norwegian accent…’is  good that way.” ~Anne


Reading Great Books

“Because life and time are short, we will be able to read only a few thousand books in our lifetimes. When we pick any book, we are ruling out hundreds and thousands of other books. How important it is, then, to choose time-proven great books that will [uplift and transform us], and enable us to rise to greater levels of truth and beauty and insight and understanding and, hence, spirituality. Many great men and women have found that a steady, systematic approach to literature has enabled them to fill their beings, in a lifetime of good reading, with the great thoughts of men and women of all the ages, for through reading great books we are put in touch with the great minds of all time, and we become their spiritual and intellectual heirs.” [George W. Pace]

“With regard to the kind of books that are read, great precaution should be used.  No doubt the destiny of individuals has very often been decided by volumes accidentally picked up and eagerly devoured at a period of life when every new impression is powerful and abiding.  For this reason, parents, or some guardian friends, should carefully examine every volume they put into the hands of young people.” [Mrs. Child 1831 Author of The Mothers Book]

Stories of the Pilgrims

We enjoyed reading Stories of the Pilgrims from Christian Liberty Press.  This book was a delight to read ; was easy and would be a fine book to read to the entire family.  We used it as a read-aloud and had a short discussion after each chapter.  The chapters were short sweet stories about the beginning days in the lives of the Pilgrims when they were being persecuted in England by King James. We enjoyed reading about their journey to live in Holland and especially liked reading about the Dutch families who were so welcoming to the Pilgrims.  Our grandmother comes from Dutch heritage and so we especially enjoyed reading about them and even found some similarities between the old Dutch and our very own grandmother!  Each short chapter helped our family realize  how faithful God was to the pilgrims in helping them triumph over persecution, hunger and sickness.  This book is a good beginning for young children when they begin their study in American History.  It will encourage an understanding of our nation’s rich Christian heritage as well. This book is quite simple but it is light-hearted, pure and lovely for our little ones.  ~Anne

Clean Your Boots Sir?

Our family enjoyed reading Clean Your Boots Sir? and found it to be interesting, inspirational and encouraging.  It was a short book that reminded me of another Lamplighter classic called A basket of Flowers but  this was more geared towards boys. This dear story is about a hard-working shoeshine boy named Robert Rightheart who lives in England during Victorian times. Robert supports his family after his Mother dies and his father becomes paralyzed. Robert follows the Lord very closely, studies God’s word and worships in song through singing old hymns…always seeking the Lord for wisdom and strength.  When he faces temptation he chooses to do the right thing, wanting to please the Lord rather than himself. This story, which I consider to be a one that builds faith and character,  will be one of my gems that I will keep in my library and hopefully have the opportunity to read to any child that the Lord sends our way.

Many things the history of Robert Righheart has taught us.  We should be fearless amid the scorn of companions for doing right, as he was on the day when they ridiculed him for giving the “old un” back his money.  We should honor our parents, as he did’ tenderly and unselfishly did he make up his little store and care for his poor paralyzed father.  We should be like him in his love and loyalty to the Savior, as witnessed in the first voyage out; and in fidelity to our employers, as manifested in his clerkship in the East India firm.. We need not leave the record of his history without resolves to be like him.  We may never don the uniform of a shoe-black boy, but we may all wear the garment of his goodly character, and bear about with us the same sword of the Spirit, the word of God.  (An excerpt from Clean Your Boots Sir?  pp. 117-118)

Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione

My boys and I just recently finished reading Sir Kendrick and we cannot stop thinking and talking about it!  We read 7 of Chuck Blacks Kingdom Series books and after each one I declare that it was my favorite. My boys always catch me on this and remind me that the last book was my favorite!  If your children love to read about brave knights, castles and  sword fighting they will love this book and the entire series.  If you enjoy reading books that build up your families faith, I recommend this series.  He has a bible study in the back of his book and each character in the story is compared with a Biblical character.  Sir Kendrick is a brave knight who serves the Prince (who is Christ) and their mission is always to fight against the dark knights of Lucious (Lucifer) Their battles are fierce but they fight with the strength of the King and his Son!  This particular book focuses on the training of a younger and less experienced knight,  Sir Duncan,  who is somewhat proud and arrogant.  By the end of the book he is braver, wiser and has the humility of his mentor Sir Kendrick.   I highly recommend this series and plan to purchase these for several of my family members. ~Anne

(The reading level is ages 9-12…I think it is better used as a family read aloud. Somewhat graphic)

Across Five Aprils~Irene Hunt

Across Five Aprils is one of those books that you see at curriculum fairs, in catalogs, and on homechoolers reading lists especially if they are studying the Civil War Era.

So, upon many recommendations, we read this book recently. Across Five Aprils is a sad book to read to your children.  It was not twaddle for sure,  and it got our family talking about the Civil war,  but because you become so acquainted with how a family is affected by the war, it is so very depressing and sad.

I don’t mind a sad book.  I like that melancholy feeling you get when you read certain books.  But if the book is going to be so sober, it must have a higher meaning or purpose in it. The only meaning I got out of  this book is that war is horrible and senseless.  It seems to me that God was mostly absent from this story, but there was plenty of sin, fear and hatred.  There was also kindness,  love, and mercy shown through the characters and also through President Lincoln.  If I had the inclination to become a Mennonite or Quaker pacifist this book might just make me want to join these denominations.

Joel..Boy of Galilee by Anne Fellows Johnston

When my boys and I read Joel, A Boy of Galilee, it seemed as though we stepped into the days of Jesus during his time of ministry on earth.  Although this is considered historical fiction, it seemed so real that you were almost  compelled to look in the scriptures for certain events.  Through the eyes of a young boy named Joel, you are able to walk the streets of Capernaum, see the miracles of Christ, observe the personalities of the disciples, understand the hypocrisy of the pharisees and religious leaders, and best of all look into the loving eyes of a Savior and friend.  When Joel looked into the eyes of Jesus  the Nazarene, he was never the same again.  This book is another that will draw you closer to the Savior.  He becomes so real that you wish you could have walked with Him as Joel did in this book.  I’d love to read this one again. ~Anne

Hinds Feet on High Places (for Children)

My children and I were so blessed by this faith building allegory written by Hannah Hurnard.  In fact, we read it several years ago and I am excited about reading it again.  Hinds Feet reminds me of Pilgrims Progress but instead of following Christian to the celestial city,  you follow a young girl who is called “Much Afraid” to the High Places where perfect love casts out fear.  “Much afraid”  has so much to overcome.  She has a crippled foot, horrible relatives, and faces so many dangers and snares as she attempts to  faithfully follow the chief shepherd.

This book can be used as a devotional; has memory verses and prayers in it for each day.  I loaned my copy …and can’t remember who has it so I think I’m going to just get another copy for my library. This book is not “twaddle” for sure and will be passed to my grandchildren…Lord willing.   I believe you will grow closer to the good shepherd and learn how much he loves you as you read this lovely book with your children.   ~Anne

Old Yeller

Finding good,  wholesome, character building books that enforce the values  we are trying to impart to our boys can be challenging,  but we have found that the older books fit our ideals more closely.  I would say that Old Yeller is one of the good books to read at least once.

My boys enjoyed the exciting plot which included wolf attacks, wild bulls, bear attacks,  and fighting off those pesky raccoons who are stealing from the corn patch.  The main character Travis, a fourteen year old boy,  learns to take care of the family farm while his father is away. He also  learns to love and care for an old yeller dog while he does this  man size job for his mom.  Travis takes on the responsibilities of his father and matures through all the trials he encounters and tough decisions he has to make.   He learns the hard lesson that his Dad tries to explain, ” Now and then, for no good reason, life will haul off and knock a man flat, life is unfair and cruel at times but  we must learn to concentrate on the positive things and not waste time worrying about the bad things.”  Although Old Yeller is full of adventures that most boys love to read about, it is a sweet and sentimental story as well….that most Mom’s will  enjoy.  The Disney Movie of Old Yeller is  sweet as well, and a good family movie night selection.

Little Pilgrim's Progress

Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen L. Taylor was delight to read because the language was easy for us to understand.  Just like the centuries old Pilgrims Progress classic,  this easier version details the journey of  Christian as he leaves the City of Destruction and heads to the Celestial city. This book is very spiritual and heavenly minded and Christian is challenged to see if he will be faithful. He faces many trials which are often difficult and scary.  My boys and I had many discussions during this story as we read about all of the trials that Christian and his friends went through.  In the end, the  point that came through for us was that God will be faithful to bring us through any trials  we face on our journey to the celestial city.

Although this book is an allegory full of adventures, battles, and giants, that my boys loved;  the message is serious, hopeful, yet quite sobering.  This book is not twaddle for sure and will be  a keeper for our library. We read it a few years ago….perhaps we will read it again  before we tackle John Bunyan’s version.  ~Anne

Titus: A Comrade of the Cross

“Titus: Comrade of the Cross” is another book that probably should be read as a family unless your child is older. Titus is not graphic, but there are some distressing events, cruelty, illness,  and death that you might want to discuss with your children as you read.

In 1894 the publisher of this book rewarded Florence Kingsley with $1,000 for writing a story that would set a child’s heart on fire for Jesus Christ. Titus is a historical fiction set in the days of Christ’s ministry.  The characters in the Bible come alive as you read through the pages,  and Christ becomes so real; you feel as though you are walking the streets with this loving carpenter, his disciples,  and the boy Titus.  As you continue to read, you faith grows when you encounter Christ the healer, the friend, the Savior,  and King. Titus has a surprise ending that is good but sad.  You need a box of tissues for this one….. especially at the end. ~Anne

Johnny Tremain

We read Johnny Tremain as a family read-aloud and I’m so glad we did.  My sister gave this book to her son to read on his own and he thought it was boring so he did not finish it.  If you read it as a family and talk about it together it won’t be boring but exciting and character building.

If you are studying American History, especially the Revolutionary War period….or even if you are not,  Johnny Tremain is a must.  I would encourage you to read it and discuss the many themes throughout the story with your family.

Johnny Tremain takes place in Boston during the 1700’s.  Johnny has no parents, is 14 years old,  and works as an apprentice for a silversmith. Johnny grows up in this story and learns about loyalty, humility, friendship, and the sin of pride.  He encounters evil and hypocrisy but also learns about courage, liberty,  and fighting against tyranny.

My boys and I gained a better understanding of life in Boston during the 1700’s.  As we read through the pages of Johnny Tremain, we encountered John Hancock, Sam Adams, James Otis, Paul Revere, Joseph Warren, Josiah Quincy,  and the Son’s of Liberty.  We gained a better understanding of  The Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s ride and the Battles of Lexington and Concord. First and foremost though we learned about the bravery and character of our founding fathers.  We learned that brave men and women fought against Tyranny “So that a man can stand.” Johnny Tremain is a keeper for us and will remain in our Library or be added to my “Grandmother Box.” ~Anne

Teddy's Button

Teddy’s Button is the type of read-aloud book that encourages lots of discussion.  My boys loved it and especially enjoyed the character Teddy. This sweet story is about a boy who’s Dad was a soldier who died in the war.  He cherished the button that came from his Fathers jacket.  He so admired his Dad and wanted to one day be a soldier just like him. Through many trials and tribulations  Teddy eventually  learns how to live the Christian life and put away self in order to be a good soldier for Christ.  He also discovers  the spiritual battle of fighting his worst enemy….SELF!  He learns that   pride, selfishness and stubbornness are difficult enemies to overcome  without God’s help.


Treasures of the Snow

This is one of my favorite family read-aloud books.  This story set in the Swiss Alps, will teach you about forgiveness, anger, and reconciliation.  The main character Annette,  learns about such things as she raises her little brother after her mother dies.  We will read this book again because the lessons learned have such eternal value.  The salvation message also comes shining through in this wonderful story.

We’ve also enjoyed the movie…not nearly as good but still a great family film for movie night. ~Anne