August was back to school month for us as well as me getting ready to speak at a conference, so, while I didn’t get much read, two out of three of my books were excellent.
Caught Up in a Story by Sarah Clarkson
I bought this after listening to Sarah on a podcast at the Read Aloud Revival. I wasn’t disappointed. She articulates why I’m so careful about what my kids read. I want them to be Storyformed, which requires that I choose excellent books for them. In addition to discussing what it means to be Storyformed, she offers some great suggestions of books that will offer young children through young adults models of character that will stay with them for life.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
This was one that Sarah recommended, and I knew Scott had read it years ago and liked it. Well, I started reading what I thought was a new read for me…and started having major deja vu. I guess I read this about ten years ago after Scott did. For some reason it didn’t stick with me at the time. This is a profoundly quiet book. It compels you along without much plot. Maybe my life was too quiet ten years ago (before kids) for this to impact me the way it did this time through (when my life is anything but quiet). This book is so.good! Read it. Oh, and fair warning, you’ll want to have some homemade cinnamon rolls handy while you read the second half.
The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley
This is a kids’ chapter book, but you all know that I’m not above kid lit. I tried to like this one. I wanted to like it. But I barely made it through. It was benign enough to let my kids read if they wanted to, but I just didn’t feel like there was a depth or quality to it that I like to see in books. My name is Becky, and I’m a book snob.
September was a better reading month for me, as far as time to read. I found some great stuff this month!
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
See, now this is a kids’ book that I can get behind! Beautiful, fanciful, with some depth, and it reminded me of L.M. Montgomery’s Blue Castle in the neatness in which Goudge tied up all the loose ends into one happy bow at the end. Some people may think that’s a flaw, but I’m good with happy endings, thankyouverymuch. I can’t wait until Kate is ready to read this!
Anne of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery
I read the first four Anne books as a child and again as an adult, but for some reason I never made it past Anne’s House of Dreams. I decided it was time to rectify that. I probably appreciated this book more as a mom anyway. It’s more mature mom-of-six Anne but just as delightful as young Anne. (And why couldn’t they have made this into a movie instead of that hideous Continuing Saga travesty?!)
The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge
After Little White Horse I wanted to try one of Goudge’s adult books. This was good, but I honestly it wasn’t an all time favorite. I’d give it 4/5 stars. It was a lovely and picturesque journey through the English countryside and English village life. The characters were compelling. (I especially liked some of the minor characters.) It was definitely worth my time, and I plan to try more Goudge for adults (and children). This book was clearly meant to be spiritual fiction (as opposed to “Christian fiction”). I will say that it did not tie into a neat bow at the end, though I don’t think that was my problem with it. I’m having a hard to putting into words why I didn’t love this quiet read like I love Hannah Coulter and Peace Like a River. Maybe I need to try it again after I read some of her other adult work?
Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C.S. Lewis
I loved this! Of course, I expected to because I love Lewis’ writing. In describing his search for joy, or sehnsucht, from early childhood to adulthood and his eventual conversion to Christianity, he recounts his fascinating educational journey. This aspect of the book is likely especially interesting to anyone involved in a classical Christian educational endeavor. Speaking of being Storyformed, you couldn’t get a better example of this than C.S. Lewis.
Bonding with Your Child Through Boundaries by June Hunt
This was a good parenting read with some helpful tips and will make a good reference to have handy as behavioral issues arise. You can read my full review here.
Parenting with Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments by Kara Durbin
Another great parenting reference book–lists of vices and virtues and the Scripture passages that speak to them to use in training your children. Also includes some practical tips in each chapter. To me, this is a great expansion on the tiny booklet that has been helpful to me, Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman Hubbard.
Read for the Heart: Whole Books for Wholehearted Families by Sarah Clarkson
I kept going back and forth on whether to buy this or Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. I’m really glad I chose this. While I like Honey, which I got from the library, this (which wasn’t available for me to library preview) is a much more careful selection of books, in my opinion, for Christian kids. Honey is also written for Christians, but I thought her selections were really broad (some of which I wouldn’t let my kids read) and not much different from a book I already own, The New York Times Parent’s Guide to the Best Books for Children by Eden Ross Lipson. Sarah’s selections, on the other hand, are distinctly Storyformed, which, of course, is no surprise. She includes some beloved favorites but also some more obscure titles that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about, as well titles relating to history and spiritual formation specifically. Where applicable, she also includes recommended illustrators to foster a visual appreciation of beauty. And finally, I really liked how she categorized the books. Books aren’t just grouped by age category (picture books, chapter books, etc.), like in Honey and the NYT book. Sarah’s categories include picture books; Golden Age [of children’s literature] classics; children’s fiction; fairy tales and fantasy; history and biography; spiritual reading for children; poetry; and music, art, and nature–and she lists the books alphabetically by author in every category in which it fits (so some books are repeated, but you can always find what you’re looking for!).
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield–in progress
This book was recommended by several trusted friends. I’m heading up a book group for our church ladies, and this is our first book. We read half in September and will read the other half in October.
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry–in progress
I love Wendell Berry’s books. I’m reading this along with Close Reads book club podcast at the CiRCE Institute. We’re taking it slow and contemplating the ideas. Join me! The podcasts go through chapter nine right now, but it’s easy to go at your own pace and jump in anytime since the podcasts are recorded for listening online whenever you feel like it.