Quotable Literary Quotes #2

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”- C. S. Lewis

Several years ago I don’t know that I would have appreciated the truth of this statement. However right now  I am reading through Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind and the Willows at bedtime with my kids and enjoying it immensely. I am as riveted by the adventures of Rat, Mole, and Toad as my kids are, so I can relate to what Lewis said above.

What passes for children’s literature today is in large part the reason why many adults bypass children’s literature. However, Lewis Carroll is a far cry from Annie Barrows. The latter my girls enjoy reading, while I could not care less for the Ivy + Bean series as a source of personal reading pleasure. There are those books which at least get them reading, and then there are those books that stay with them for a lifetime.

After reading one children’s book out of curiosity about a regional author, and yet another in anticipation of the class I am teaching this fall (review forthcoming), I am finding that I am drawn to well written children’s writing as much if not more so than the classic literature written for adult audiences. The artistry, skill, and language of Kenneth Grahame is just as deep and rewarding as the writing of Charlotte Bronte. And I have to say that The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh, while unquestionably written with the young child in mind, is equally exciting to the little girl hidden in me.

If you don’t know quite what to read and are a bit burnt out on the current offerings, I strongly suggest that you all consider re-reading (or in many cases reading for the first time) some classic children’s literature.

We never really outgrow well written stories.

 

Honey For a Child’s Heart

honey-child-heart

Honey for a Child’s Heart (3rd edition), by Gladys Hunt.1989. 224 pages.

I am always trying to decide which books we should check out from the library, which books are worth spending the money to add to our personal library, and which books are a good fit for our children’s personalities, reading tastes, and abilities. A random trip to the local library overwhelms with staggering numbers of books on the shelves, purportedly to enrich children’s reading, and more are added every year.

One of the things I discuss quite often with other home school mothers is this very subject, and one of them asked me recently, “Have you ever read Honey for a Child’s Heart?” As it turns out, I had never even heard of the book, but I wasted no time getting my hands on a copy and read it in a much quicker space of time than is typical for me.

However, despite the wonderful thoughts inspired by the book, and there were quite a few, there were also portions I felt were unnecessarily pretentious. I couldn’t stop myself, at the end, from thinking that Anthony Esolen’s  10 Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child was much better executed and matter of fact while equally well written and eloquent.

Honey for a Child’s Heart is different in that it is an explicitly Christian book, with a strong emphasis on bolstering the Christians values that the parents are already imparting to the child.It also focuses primarily on reading while 10 Ways touches on various aspects of developing a child’s natural imaginative bent.

Thankfully, unlike so many Christians today, Mrs. Hunt recognizes the danger and deficit we inflict on children when we take the position that only those things explicitly marked “Christian” are of any value or worth. More than that, this mindset has in recent years resulted in a severe dearth of imaginative, creative writing from Christian writers:

Since words are the way we communicate experiences, truth, and situations, who should know how to use them more creatively than people who are aware of their Creator? The world cries out for imaginative people who can spell out truth in words that communicate meaningfully to people in their human situation. And of all people, committed Christians ought to be the most creative for they are indwelt by the Creator.

Yet tragically, Christians often seem the most inhibited and poverty-stricken in human expression and creativity. Part of this predicament comes from a false concept of what is true and good. The fear of contamination has led people to believe that only what someone else has clearly labeled Christian in safe. Truth is falsely made as narrow as any given sub-culture, not as large as God’s lavish gifts to men. Truth and excellence have a way of springing up all over the world, and our role as parents is to teach our children how to find and enjoy the riches of God and to reject what is mediocre and unworthy of Him.

The thing that I found most valuable in the book was, I assume, the reason my friend recommended it. The entire final 100 pages of the 224 page book is a bibliography of good books for parents to consider reading to their children or adding to their library. Broken out by age groups and topics of interest, Mrs. Hunt concisely listed hundreds of books which she believes meets the standard of both true and good, and most of them are not explicitly labeled Christian, though a  few are.

I also appreciated her emphasis on making time to read for oneself as well as to your children, even at the expense of a perfect house. It was a bit of comfort last night since I spent the better part of all my weekend downtime reading rather than catching up on the laundry. Reading is a lost art of sorts, and it is worth it to make time for reading.

Overall, it was a good book, and I’m sure that I am way behind the curve of the typical Classical homeschoolers in that I just learned of its existence a couple of weeks ago. If for no other reason than the book list  and the embracing of great literature of various genres, it’s worth a look.

Grade: B+

No content advisory required.

Another good place to find s list of “living books” is here on the Living Books List.

 

 

In the Queue

After a relaxing Thanksgiving, a crazy Thanksgiving weekend, and a very slow start to what I like to call Recovery Monday, I decided that the least I can do is keep reading. It really is one of the only things that relaxes me. Not the only thing, but one of the top 3. So I dusted off the book pile and am planning on getting at least three books completed and reviewed by the end of the year. I also have a couple of children’s books that have stood the test in our family from our oldest now 21, to our youngest, who is 7.

Books I plan to read by the end of the first quarter of 2016:

  • Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton. I am reading this in bits because it’s one of those books you don’t want to rush through. It gets better with age and I like to savor it, let the thoughts kind of roll around in my head for a couple days after I’ve read a chapter or two. It deserves no less. Yes, much like Lewis and Booker T. Washington, I am an intellectual groupie of Chesterton. I should make that a category.
  • Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. I’m pretty engrossed in this one right now and hope to be done by week’s end.
  • Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s been a few years since I read it, but it’s time to read it again.
  • Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray. I’m expecting this to be a fun one.
  • Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Tough Questions of Faith, by Ravi Zacharias. I was with a fellow bibliophile, lamenting the dearth of Christian writers the caliber of Lewis, Chesterton, and Bonhoeffer, and she suggested I check out Ravi Zacharias. “A Lewis for our generation”, she said and loaned me this book as an introduction. Looking forward to reading this and more from him in the coming year.
  • Ready to Run, By Dr. Kelly Starrett. I am training for my first ever race, a 5K in early 2016, and I need to shore up some things. I know 5K is almost nothing to a few of you who read here, but to me it’s an accomplishment. The book comes highly reviewed and I need to finish it and implement some of the recommended changes.
  • Working With the Hands, By Booker T. Washington
  • The Color of Water, by James McBride
  • The Sunne in Splendour, by Sharon Kay Penman, comes heavily recommended by Maeve.
  • The Hunger Games, which fellow bibliophile sold me on. Since our girls already own them I can read them whenever the mood strikes.
  • Till We Have Faces, By C. S. Lewis. Nope, I have never read it. Yes, I blush slightly at the confession.

This is where you tell me what you’re reading, or planning to read as we move from 2015 to 2016. My 2016 list is still a work in progress and I’m open to suggestions.

So please, fire away.