We must include a little shout out of K gladness over a few of the books that blessed us best this year.
I didn't exactly keep up with my goal of 2 books a month... but I think I did finish 15 books and I'm grateful and content with that. (More next year though!) Saving Leonardo (By Nancy Perkins) was a surprising favorite read for me. (Very grateful for the friend, TS, who loaned it to me who shared that the intro and concluding chapters were worth the most consideration. It's all excellent art history in the middle, but if you can ponder those first and last chapters, you'll have enough to mull over for months!) For other books, there's just too many more reflections to record here...
But now a few awards must be given to our K favorites, the best books I read aloud to our kids this year.
|(if only I could change a cover!)|
Twice Freed, by Patricia St. John. Historical fiction based on the story of the slave Onesimus, that Paul wrote about to the slave owner Philemon. How awesome to track with this young boy on his journey to manhood, his search for truth, his travels and abuse, his crimes and the grace that broke in on him to finally give him sight and life. So Paul, who wrote the nonfictional, brief letter Philemon in the Bible, he's a fictional character in these pages and he speaks the real words of scripture to the huddled little crowds that pressed in to hear him teach. You can hear him! You can see their faces! ...when you read these pages. Privileged grace to walk with Onesimus, to meet Paul, to know Christ in this story. I think every Christian should read this book. The living dynamic of meeting Paul and hearing him speak the words we know him to write is just too great a front-row seat for anyone to miss. Truly, this book can deeply warm Christians of any age, stoke a flame for giving all to the One Worthy. I highly recommend it as fuel for family discussion and discipleship for all in Christ.
Kingdom Tales, by David Karen and Mains. Our second reread. And there will be more, many more rereads ahead to our kids, and, I pray, to our grands... I admit, that I don't love the setting of this book. There's some dated oddness there. But oh, these chapters, this story, the incredible wisdom tucked into these do-ably short chapters. If I could, I would buy a copy for every family I know. Every Grandparent should grab a copy to pour over with their littles.... there's so much life, wisdom, beauty, worthy soul hunger in these pages. Amanda's battle with the dragon, the Enchanter's deceptive saying, the slogan he has posted around the city, the King in his disguises and the names of the King being sent like arrows to pull back the veil of blindness and death... Rich beyond words. Our souls are much profited by these very favorite stories.
I, Juan de Pareja, by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino. This is just plain extraordinary literature. The writing, the scenery, the history, the characters, the longings, the fulfillment.... Exquisite. Historical fiction based on some true pieces of life from this great painter Diego Velasquez and his beloved, loyal, admirable slave and better friend. A privilege to enjoy this one with the kids.
Keeping Holiday by Starr Meade. This is much the same flavor book as Kingdom Tales. Keeping Holiday, as Matt would say, is no Narnia or Lord of the Rings, (and I wouldn't put it on the same heights as Kingdom Tales either) but it is a worthy contribution for exactly what it is: the telling of how children who grow up knowing about holidays, can come to know the Truer, Fuller, Real Holiday. There are a few pages, scenes in these chapters, that we've recalled and retraced and questioned and enjoyed retelling again at the table... a very special family read at Christmas.
If this was Matt's post... his list would be entirely different. We have a slightly crazy pattern of reading LOTS with our kids and he and I choose quite differently. I love it. I read in the afternoon, after lunch usually, and Matt reads most nights at bedtime. Sometimes our kids have mentioned that their friends watch more movies than us. I point them back to the joy it is for our family to take in books, stories read aloud, together, and this usually calms the comparison storms as they recognize that there is a lot of family joy for us in feasting our ears and minds and hearts on excellent STORY together, read aloud and savored like fine wine (well, they wouldn't say that, but it's true).
We like to discuss every angle we can consider together and this just seems to happen better with books than with movies, probably because there seems to me to be a higher quality of brilliance in the stories that are written rather than most of the movies that are made these days. To be sure, there are some excellent and profound movies, and sometimes some fantastic silly movies, to enjoy as a family too. But these four books surpassed any movie I've heard of or seen this year. They kept us talking long at the table and at bedtime for weeks... I'm so grateful for these authors, these characters, these stories, to share with our family, to love and grow with these stories together.
*And for the record of joy here: Matt finished all one thousand plus pages of Lord of the Rings with our kids this year and, of course, it will be reread in years to come too. Tolkien's works were worthy of highest consideration when we were pondering names for our children. There is deep love for all things Tolkien, Lewis and Chesterton around these parts.