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.
I recently suggested to a friend that he should read more fiction. He replied that fiction was boring and he is more interested in reading nonfiction books because they can help change the world. He also, though, graciously asked if I had any recommendations for fiction that he might read. The following is my response to him.
I’d suggest that one of the primary uses of fiction is to change the world. For instance:
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.
So why did Jesus tell this fictional story, better known as a parable? We’ll let Him explain.
I just finished reading about the second city, Athens, in Doug Wilson’s Five Cities That Ruled the World. I love the concept. And love Doug Wilson. But while the book so far has presented a pretty good history of each city (Jerusalem and Athens), I didn’t learn why each city ruled the world. This aspect of each city’s role was relegated to the last page or two of the chapter. Hardly enough given the title and proposed scope of the book. Again, the book will give you a better sense of the history of each city, especially from a Christian worldview. But it fails to live up to its title, and to what I have come to expect from Wilson. I am going to take a break and come back later to finish the book with fresh eyes and fresh expectations.
I’ve been reading John Horne’s excellent online novel, “Another Way Home,” and highly recommend it.