Recommended Reading – Finding God in Literature

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Mother and Daughter Reading Together

Ahhh, books! One of the favorite aspects of our homeschooling over the past twenty years was our read aloud time. My children always had their own assigned reading to do individually from the time they were able to read simple chapter books, but we would also gather together to snuggle on the couch before lunch to read aloud. We continued even through the high school years, tackling more difficult subject matter and having some wonderful discussions. The books we read over the years always coincided with our studies in history and/or the Bible, and many of them, to our great delight, were books that had a decidedly Christian worldview with chivalrous men, virtuous women, and bold acknowledgments of the Creator. Others did not mention God directly, but they contained characters which learned valuable lessons and possessed moral virtues based on Biblical principles. We discovered some great treasures in literature through the years that I would like to share with you.* I’ve broken the lists down into age-appropriate categories, although much will depend on the maturity and interests of your child.

Heather Pryor is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Clicking on the following links will redirect you to the Amazon.com website.

Elementary:

Middle School:

      • The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare – Historical fiction set during the time of the life of Christ. A young zealot named Daniel, consumed by hatred for the Romans after witnessing his father’s crucifixion, is slowly transformed as he listens to the teaching of a rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth.
      • Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham – Set in the town of Salem in the 1700’s, young Nathaniel Bowditch starts to see his dreams slip away as tragedy befalls his family and he becomes an indentured servant at the age of 12. Nathaniel determines to see obstacles as opportunities and endeavors to educate himself, understanding the value of knowledge. He eventually fulfills his dream of going to sea and writes a book on accurate navigation.
      • Little Womenby Louisa May Alcott (as well as her other stories) – The endearing story of the four March girls struggling to learn lessons such as humility, diligence and forgiveness as they grow up in the Civil War era.
      • Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates (Dover Children’s Evergreen Classics) by Mary Mapes Dodge – Set in the Netherlands in the 19th century, this story follows the adventures of Hans Brinker. Hans desires to enter the ice skating race with a pair of silver skates offered as the prize but is faced with the difficulty of having to race with wooden skates, the only kind he owns. Hans proves himself to be a young man of honor as he is faced with some difficult decisions concerning his family’s future.
      • Anne of Green Gables, Complete 8-Book Box Set: Anne of Green Gables; Anne of the Island; Anne of Avonlea; Anne of Windy Poplar; Anne’s House of … Ingleside; Rainbow Valley; Rilla of Ingleside
        by Lucy Maud Montgomery
        – The story of the anne of green gableslittle red-haired orphan with the quick wit and sharp tongue. The series begins with Anne as a precocious eleven year old orphan and concludes in her adult life as a gentle married woman with seven children. These books are quite different than the movie versions and a must read if you enjoyed the movies. Highly entertaining!
      • The Swiss Family Robinson (Puffin Classics) by Johann Wyss – When a family is shipwrecked on an island, they make the best of the situation by trusting in God and building a new life for themselves. Wonderful descriptions of tree houses with rope bridges, homes in caves, and ostrich races. This is truly a fun read-aloud for the adventure-loving!
      • Hittite Warrior  by Joanne Williamson – An interesting historical fiction set in the time of the Judges, in particular, during the rule of Deborah. Uriah the Hittite becomes mixed up in the life of Jotham the Hebrew as Jotham saves a child from being sacrificed to the idol Moloch. The three escape to the land of Judea where Deborah and Barak are preparing to go to battle against the general, Sisera.
      • Heidi (Dover Children’s Evergreen Classics) by Johanna Spyri – The popular story of the little orphan who was able to soften the heart of her crusty grandfather as they lived high on a mountain in the Swiss Alps.
      • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe – This is another shipwreck story which chronicles the life and adventures of one man. Robinson Crusoe must learn to be resourceful as he builds a life for himself on a deserted island. He chooses to look at his experience as an opportunity and even with a thankful heart toward God.
      • A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett – The story of Sara Crewe, the wealthy daughter of a British soldier who is placed in an English boarding school and always maintains the decorum and grace of a princess, even when disaster strikes and she is forced into poverty and hardship.
      • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – When Lucy Pevensie steps into an old wardrobe and enters the magical world of Narnia, the adventure begins for her and her brothers and sister. C. S. Lewis pens a compelling series that contains a strong allegorical message of Jesus Christ as our Savior, represented by the character of Aslan the lion, king of Narnia.
      • Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling – Fifteen year old Harvey Cheyne Jr. is the spoiled son of a wealthy railroad tycoon who finds his life turned upside down when he is rescued from drowning by a fishing boat.
      • Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes – Set in the time of the American Revolution, Johnny Tremain dreams of being a silversmith, but the dream is shattered when a terrible accident befalls him. Johnny must learn to overcome bitterness and obstacles as well as face some difficult choices when the Sons of Liberty begin to plan a tea party.
      • The Prince And The Pauper by Mark Twain – The tale of two boys, a pauper and the prince of England, who switch lives with some very unexpected results. Each boy learns some lessons from his own experience, some of which are the importance of friendship, having their eyes open to injustice and their hearts to mercy.

High School:

      • The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt  by G.A. Henty (as well as other Henty novels) – Historian G.A. Henty wrote accurate, informative, and entertaining historical fiction. Out of over 100 such novels, this particular title ranks as the favorite of all of my kids. It is set in ancient Egypt during the time of Israelite slavery and the exodus led by Moses. Compelling reading.
      • For the Temple: A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem by G.A. Henty – Another well-done Henty historical fiction which takes place in 70 A.D. and covers the Roman empire’s destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
      • A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter – A beautiful coming-of-age butterfly1story of a young girl, misunderstood and sometimes mistreated by her mother, who overcomes great obstacles through hard work, determination, and choosing to do what is right. This book can also be used as a springboard to countless nature studies.
      • The Pilgrim’s Progress  by John Bunyan – An allegory of a sinner’s burden, the joy of salvation, and the difficulties of the journey to heaven. Written in the 1600’s by John Bunyan while he was imprisoned.
      • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe – This also ranks as one of my children’s all-time favorite books. Written in the 1850’s by a preacher’s daughter, Abraham Lincoln said when he met its author, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” It contains difficult subject matter as it deals with the realities of slavery, but also provides great material for discussion as it shines a light on the hypocrisy of some who claim the name of Christian, and shows the power of the word of God to transform lives. A must read.
      • Emma  by Jane Austen – One of my favorite Austen novels,  its main character, Emma, is forced to come face to face with her own shortcomings and failures as she tries to play matchmaker among her friends and acquaintances.
      • Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace – The story of a rich Jewish prince and merchant who vows revenge when he is betrayed by a friend. (If you’ve seen the movie, you know that this book also contains an exciting chariot race!)
      • The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom – This book also covers difficult subject material of the horrors of Nazi concentration camps of World War II. Corrie Ten Boom and her family were placed in one of these camps as a result of their efforts to hide Jews in their home from the Nazis. This autobiography by Miss Ten Boom shows the depth of God’s love and the power of forgiveness and hope, for as Corrie says, “No pit is so deep that God is not deeper still.”

This is by no means a complete list of books we read aloud, but these have been  specifically chosen for their Christian worldview and/or Christian morals and principles. I will be publishing book reviews on specific ones, sharing character analysis, quotes, and a summary of content. Like us on Facebook for updates or stay tuned to the monthly newsletters for information on the latest reviews.

Let me know what your family’s favorite faith-based books are and please share with me which ones you would like to see reviewed from this list. Happy reading!

 

(*It is always a good idea to preview books before reading them with your children to make sure you are comfortable with the content and to have a “heads-up” if there is something that needs explanation, such as doctrinal issues, etc.)

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4 Responses to Recommended Reading – Finding God in Literature

  1. Heather Pryor says:

    Thanks for mentioning him, Jai! I should have listed “The Scarlet Letter” in the high school category. It generates some very good discussions. I did not know of Hawthorne’s connections with the Alcott family. That is very interesting!

  2. Jai says:

    Anything by Nathaniel Hawthorne. He did help educate Louisa May Alcott and her sisters. :)

  3. Heather Pryor says:

    Thanks, Angela! You’re right, the “Grandma’s Attic” books are also great reads. In fact, we have both that you mentioned. :)

  4. Angela Hertle says:

    Hey, great list! I’ve read most of those. I’d also recommend for the Middle School “Stories from Grandma’s Attic” and “More Stories from Grandma’s Attic”. Great books sprinkled with good family & Christian values. :)

    Angela

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