Either Way, We’ll Be All Right

I went back to some timeless favorites of mine! Life’s too short not to read the best.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Every time this story just grips me, and I can’t put it down. It’s just a profoundly layered and thought-proving story. The intrigue mixed with the heavy topics are lensed with the wit and bluntness of a child… an excellent novel.

For The Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

This book (written by Frances and Edith Schaeffer’s daughter) was my first exposure to Charlotte Mason. I certainly agree with the author in that we should cherish, nurture, and enrich children in their education. Our culture will press anything the opposite of good, and we must be intentional to feed children’s minds and souls with goodness and truth. It’s nothing short of a war to do so.

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

I’ve reviewed this book on the blog before, so I’ll just say, this is an easy read with mystery and beautiful writing.

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

This based-on-a-true-story takes place in a little Norwegian town during the winter of 1940. Nazi troops captivated Peter’s village. No one wanted the Nazis to get ahold of the country’s hidden nine million dollars in gold, knowing they would only use it to progress the killing of innocent lives. The Norwegian children would play a part in smuggling it to safety one sled-load at a time…before the spring would melt the snow.

Becoming Free Indeed by Jinger Duggar Vuolo

I’m grateful Jinger told her story. She is one of the Duggar kids closest to my age, and I used to wish I could know her better. Her testimony magnifies the importance of Scripture and the understanding of its context, application, and study. Jinger articulates (with grace) the difference between fear and true faith in the gospel of Christ. Disentangling the truth from the lies rather than “deconstructing.” I would recommend this book to anyone, even if you have no idea who Bill Gothard is. More Bill Gothards will come — they always do. “Be wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove.” May this book help point people to Christ and His Word!

Either Way, We’ll Be All Right by Eric Tonjes

Eric Tonjes writes “an honest exploration of grief” and eternity in the midst of his wife’s terminal cancer. It’s a serious, thought-provoking read, one that made me grateful for the joys to come. I had the privilege of meeting his wife at a family wedding, and she was resigned that she was dying but wanted to “steward the cancer well.” I think she and her husband both used it to bring glory to God. I love the phrase of strength “either way, we’ll be all right” and want to make it part of my thinking.

Cheaper By the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

This books is rich with vintage humor, fascinating history, and the detailed inner lives of a family with an eccentric Motion Study Expert for a father, and a calm, capable, intelligent mother. (YES, it’s a true story, told by two of the children themselves). Every chapter is a masterpiece. If you’re planning to read out loud to little ears, you’ll want to edit out the language and some subtle references. PS. The movie is not the same thing as the book.

Belles on Their Toes by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

The sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen, it holds an equal wit and charm. This book features the mother after her husband passes away. She was a remarkable woman.

Teaching to Change Lives by Dr. Howard Hendricks

Some friends and I went through this book chapter by chapter, discussing its principles or “laws of teaching.” It’s a memorable, practical book on impacting others on a heart level. A great read!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed I’ve been camping out on this subject! Some friends and I just held a delightful discussion on the layers of this story. HOW FUN. I’ve also been reading a biography on Louisa May Alcott which brings out a whole different dynamic to the author’s behind the scenes (I know more than I ever wanted to know about the Alcotts now). The characters in Little Women are so likable and so appropriately flawed. FIVE STARS times a hundred. I’ll post the character quote quiz I made for the discussion here on the blog — one of my favorite parts of the book is the witty, realistic dialogue.

Time Saving Mom by Crystal Paine

This book is simple and plain, but Crystal claims the principles work, and she would know! I especially liked her reminder to write things down and “habit stack.” She has a great way of organizing her priorities, too.

This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence by John Piper

John Piper has some great thoughts in his book, not just about marriage but — about hospitality, about roles, about singleness, about children and about the church. I appreciated Piper’s words on this aspect of purpose in marriage: “The meaning of marriage in relation to children is not mainly ‘Make them,’ but ‘Make them disciples.‘ … Marriage is not absolutely for making children. But it is absolutely for making children followers of Jesus.”

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

I’ll never forget the first time I read this when I was about Anne’s age . . . the diary just stops. I didn’t know what happened to her until that point. This account is harrowing, but her writing is beautiful. This diary makes me all the more grateful for God’s grace, and that I’ll never have to go through anything like WWII without His presence. It also reminds me of the hopelessness of striving to be good without Christ. A heavy and fascinating read.

And now I’m ready for something light and humurous again. Ideas?

My Childlike Taste in Books

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

C. S. Lewis

My 2021 reading list may look like I got it mixed up with my youngest sister’s list. Because, once hooked, I never stopped reading fairy tale-ish adventures.

Books for the young are often the innocent entertainment, happy endings, and the clear sense of good and evil that we crave. Maybe it’s a way to return to the sweetness of childhood.

For another thing, don’t you love to absorb history through the eyes of children? Children’s historical fiction/nonfiction is more about the day-to-day burdens of growing up, rather than the complex ethical decisions behind the scenes. Children are often good at seeing the silver lining of the dark clouds, and they perceive the deepest details. Remember the first time you ventured out of country and how it engaged your five senses? This is how children observe their own cultures, with acute awareness of the sheer newness.

As I ponder the compilation of reasons for my childlike taste in books this past year, I hope you can relate to the love of wholesome literature!

A few of my favorite 2021 reads:

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus

“Set against the backdrop of World War II, Anna, Edmund, and William are evacuated from London to live in the countryside, bouncing from home to home in search of a permanent family.” A friend gifted me this kindle book as a pleasant surprise. I absolutely loved reading every paragraph of this delightful novel. Don’t you love it when books reference books? The author gave the pages a touch of Narnia magic even though the genre is historical fiction. Such a satisfying ending, too. I bought this for my little sister’s birthday!

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

I enjoyed every chapter, because of the simplicity, beauty in word choice, and humor. As the family travels to escape the Nazis, we brush up against several different cultures. Another though-provoking WWII refugee book, this one is even partly autobiographical. I’m hoping to find and read the sequels. *UPDATE: I do NOT recommend the rest of the books in the Pink Rabbit trilogy. They’re not appropriate for children and not for me either!

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

“The War that Saved My Life” is real and raw, allowing me to better understand children with traumatic childhoods. It isn’t as well written, in my opinion, as the first two I reviewed, and a bit slower paced, but still an enjoyable storyline and realistic characterization. Also set during WWII.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Wanda is a Polish girl and her classmates make fun of her for her differences. She takes solace in her “100 dresses” and in kindness. This is a brief read.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

What if a few lab rats escaped their cages and made their own civilization with their newfound knowledge? An interesting, quick read about the secret lives of mice and really smart rats.

A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

By one of my favorite American authors, this story shares a young woman’s (Elnora’s) journey to funding her own college through catching moths, mending her torn relationship with her mother, and doing what she believes is right at all costs. It’s set in Indiana’s Limberlost Swamp in the early 20th century.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I recently found a lovely hardback copy of this story after listening to it in audiobook form (which is how I intake most of my books.) This story is just sweet, wholesome, transforming and humorous. Mary finds her health and character grow as she tends the secret garden. This story is gold.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

“A Little Princess” is one of my favorite rags-to-riches stories! How the plot unfolds is just magically enchanting and oh so satisfying. A timeless must-read!

I also enjoyed reading Elizabeth Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, and a couple vintage career-girl novels, but fell short of my goal of reading 30 books this year. Here’s to better reading success in 2022!

What are your favorite children’s chapter books? You know, in case I try to cram in the last few books to make my goal?

Or perhaps your favorite books for adults, but that still hold a wholesome wonder?