I’ve read a lot of books to my son, William, over the years. In part because of his reading challenges, in part because there are some VERY good books out there for younger folks that I didn’t read but are still very edifying for me today, and in part because of what I have read about the value of reading to our children–even as they progress into their teen years. So I thought that I’d put together a list of those books (plus some I haven’t read but plan on doing so or plan on having William read himself). I pray you find some books for you to read to your children or for them to read to themselves. Or for you to read on your own!
Books are listed in order of the age of the potential reader, from youngest to oldest in each section. Reading books aloud to children that are above their reading level is a great way to stretch their vocabulary and comprehension, and to spend special time with them.
All the books are recommended, but if I had to pick just one series of books on the fiction list, it would be the Mr. Pipes books by Douglas Bond (anything that Bond writes is worth reading). The Wingfeather series by Andrew Peterson; Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress by Oliver Hunkin; and Wise Words: Family Stories That Bring the Proverbs to Life by Peter J. Leithart would be the runner-ups. In the biography, etc. section—which has some adult books that many preteens might enjoy, my favorites are The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and Beowulf by Douglas Wilson. In the study section, I really like Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men by Bob Schultz (fathers should read it too) and also like Boys & Girls Playing by J.C. Ryle.
“Beware the one who makes his living off criticizing the sin of others.” – Pastor Eric Landry, discussing the actions of Ham against his father Noah in a sermon on Genesis 9.
As I think about how biblically-minded Christians can deal with the constant assaults from the left, three things really stand out to me.
First is to have a strong commitment to liberty. An unwillingness to waver from this commitment in the midst of significant opposition will make us stand out in the midst of a generally compromising culture.
Second is excellence. Maintaining integrity and quality in our lives and work will provide us great freedom to pursue our goals because it allows the criticisms of our opponents to be seen clearly as unmerited attacks on us.
Third, and to the point of the quote above, is the positive, Bill Buckley-style “happy warrior” approach we should take in our work. As we present positive alternatives and a positive outlook on things, it brings people along with us and frees us from being caught up in the downward spiral of negatively. It’s not that we can’t at times be critical of the way things are, or even people occasionally, but our positive outlook helps us and others see the possibility of a better future much more clearly, even in the midst of the turmoil our nation in facing.
By the way, if you have never read William F. Buckley, Jr., you really should. His spirit of optimism is infectious. A great place to start is Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography. Another good one that captures both his and Ronald Reagan’s optimistic spirit is The Reagan I Knew.
Galileo by Mitch Stokes is a highly entertaining and informative book that helps rewrite the conventional wisdom the it was the church that stood in the way of Galileo and others as they pushed forward the idea that the earth was not the center of the universe. The geocentric view was in fact widely adhered to by secular scientists, and the threat to their reputations and ability to earn a living were at the “center” of the opposition to Galileo. This is the same problem we face today with global warning, evolution, and many other areas where scientists refuse to look the facts straight in the eye. Galileo is part of Thomas Nelson’s Christian Encounters Series. I haven’t found one yet that doesn’t present a sound biblical worldview.
I enjoyed reading The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming to my son William (age 12). It kept him thoroughly engaged. It also provides a sad commentary on elitism, both on the blindness of the elite to the real world around them and on the consequences of that blindness on the rest of the people. This still holds true today; elitism is not confined to the nobility and communists of early 20th century Russia. The American government is today filled with elites at the federal, state, and local levels. Though it didn’t come to pass in Russia, the antidote to elitism is freedom. When people are allowed to make their own choices, they might not always like the consequences, but at least they are consequences of their choosing.
I love all of G. A. Henty books, as does my son. In Freedom’s Cause: A Story of Wallace and Bruce is about the twentieth of Henty’s great historical fiction books for boys–and their dads–we have read together. Like the rest of them, this one helped us learn about history and the difference between right and wrong, while telling an entertaining tale about a young man who is mature beyond his years. The new thing for me in this one is the harsh, even barbaric, treatment the Scots received at the hands of the English, who used religion as an excuse to persecute a people who worshiped God in faith. I know all people are sinners, but sometimes I give my English ancestors a pass on this. But Henty makes sure that the sins of the English are on full display here.