Books for Young Minds

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One of the gifts we thought to give our oldest (8) this year for Christmas, was the gift of some really good classic books.  We both have an intense love of books and reading, one of our favorite pastimes before we had children was to take turns reading to each other at night after the work day from our favorite books.

We want our children to hopefully share this love of books, and we think the best way to help them achieve that, is to read to them, and to read to them often.

Starting our homeschooling journey recently, I’d been trying to figure out what kinds of books to read that were fitting for him.  The coursework I’d chosen was great in all other categories, except the literature suggestions unfortunately.  I mean… this boy has been reading Harry Potter since age 5 in kindergarten.  He went through all the books of Narnia with my husband two years ago – so suggestions like Winnie the Pooh or Pippi Longstocking, although we read through them and laughed… they’re more in line with what I’m reading to our 4 year old.  I could tell he really needed more.

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The first one he was super excited to dive into was The Pilgrim’s Progress.  I told him about this book as it was one I remember reading when I was about his age at the Christian school I went to.  This book was so good, and so helpful in one’s Christian journey, that even 20-something years later, I still think about it and remember parts that reflect what I’m going through in my journey as a Christian.  Even now as we’ve started reading it together (he was so excited he couldn’t wait for the break to be over 😀 ), I’m given the chance to find new treasures and meanings in it that I of course missed at such a young age.  I told him this, too, that this would be a book he’d probably love to reread over the course of his life, just to understand the journey better as he gains more life experience.  I still think it’s good for children this young to read it.  I remember reading it and of course realizing I didn’t have those kinds of life experiences yet, but still understanding the wisdom it imparted and instruction on how to navigate different things like despair and discouragement, the hills of difficulty, etc.  And I can see that even though he’s only 8, he already comprehends those things, too.

Plus it is wonderful to read it with him, stop and then explain things about life and faith.  The characters in Pilgrim’s Progess are just so necessary for children to understand!  People who are “Obstinate,” or “Pliable,” or the “Wordly Wiseman,” or the man named, “Legality.”  Each one proposes an amazing discussion we then have about who these people are, why they are the way they are, and how they derail one’s life or miss what Christianity is about.

Rereading this book also prompted us to look into the life of the author, John Bunyan, who was such an admirable man in his own right.  Learning together about his own life journey, and that he wrote this book while in prison (!) was a huge lesson in and of itself for us to talk about.  We even read through Bunyan’s “Apology,” for his book, or rather struggled through it LOL…  Because of his use of old English and speaking in riddles, every line I had to stop and explain what he was talking about.  It provided new ideas our son has never thought about deeply enough, but also great humor as every sentence rhymed and sounded so strange!  Overall it was a great lesson in not only the history behind him being imprisoned for just preaching and living out his faith, but also his steadfastness in the face of persecution (writing a book he knew would probably not be accepted – hence the lonnng apology and defense of it).  It was also interesting to learn that some of Bunyan’s harshest critics and naysayers, were of course the fellow Christians themselves.  It’s always been that way, from the Prophets of old, to the Wesley’s, to Spurgeon, etc. and that itself is another great lesson.

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The other books we got him are as in the first picture, Gulliver’s Travels, The Swiss Family Robinson, and Treasure Island.  He already knows of The Swiss Family Robinson, as it’s one of the my husband’s favorite stories, and it has A LOT of strong Christian lessons in it, more than what the popular movies would make it seem like.  We love it because it portrays the almost insurmountable trials of a very traditional Christian family, and shows them constantly looking to their faith and the Bible, and guidance from God to understand how to overcome their barrage of struggles.  Just a wonderful book for growing and influencing a young person’s faith, in our opinion.

And of course Gulliver’s Travels and Treasure Island are more just for pure boyish fun!  Not that girls can’t enjoy these books, too, although I admit I was never interested in reading these two.  Apparently, when men read these as boys they tend to stay with them long into adulthood, which to me is a mark of a very good book worth reading!

 

More books I can’t wait to read with him:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Oliver Twist

 

If any readers have suggestions for what else would be good for children his age, please let know!  I don’t think you can ever have too many good books 😀

Stephanie

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The Terror Next Door

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Our neighbor is the blonde one, the other was his cousin just visiting

I don’t know what the deal is with the Chihuahua breed.  We have the sweetest family next door, but every time their little house dog comes outside he feels he his responsible for barking as if we are heathens going to take over their property, and turn him into a chorizo sausage.  It’s pretty hilarious as we’ve tried different tactics to make peace with him….  Once I held out a beautiful yellow dandelion flower through a hole in the fence.

 

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He ate it.

Maybe I should’ve tried bacon.

He barks as though he is a huge, terrifying dog – something fierce and to be feared!  Our two cats also find him amusing… they sit close by and quietly watch him foam at the mouth, barring his little teeth, and making the most ferocious bark he can muster.  They don’t even bat a kitty eyelash.

One time, my cat Ese, who is a lot like me, honestly, was a little closer to the fence than normal… and that dog was doing his usual barking that made his entire body lift off the ground.  The sound must’ve gotten to her, or maybe the vibrations from being too close to the sound source, but I saw her green eyes narrow, and her kitty paw lift up to strike him.  She let out a feline HISSSS that actually made the dog jump, stop momentarily, and then resume his routine.  Ese turned as if she knew she’d already spent too much effort for a cat, and walked back over to the patio where she relaxed for another nap.

Another time, the brick in the picture blocking the hole in the fence actually came down, more than likely from the vibrations of continual daily barking, and the little dog was free to explore our backyard.  I was just enjoying a cup of coffee and looking out the big windows to our patio, when I saw a tiny little yellow dog… only as big as a puppy!  I was excited… until I realized it was our Terror Next Door.  I have to admit, going out there to face him made me a little scared!  Would he really bite my ankles?  Was his bite as bad as his bark?  He certainly wasn’t a friendly dog by any means… thinking of the flower he ripped to shreds.

I mustered my courage to get outside and try to put him back, he was, after all, only the size of my foot… nothing to be scared of, I told myself.  I got outside, it was Quiet… the Terror Next Door was nowhere to be seen.  I looked around our yard carefully, afraid he might jump out at me from behind like a Ewok from Star Wars, and finally came to the conclusion that he must’ve found his way out.

I went back inside and tried to enjoy my coffee again… I looked out our front windows – it was such a beautiful morning.  And then I saw him, terrorizing the kids on their way to the bus stop!  Barking and barking, his little body lifting off the ground with every sound emitted… I knew I had to do something, he could get run over by one of the coffee-crazed workers, or worse, stolen by one of the children who merely looked at him and said, “AWWWWW.”  They didn’t know what I knew… they didn’t know what the little Terror was capable of!

I rushed outside not knowing how I’d round him up, but determined to get that dog back where he belonged, next door to us.  I came at him telling him to Go Home, and he barked his usual bark but backing away towards his house and front door.  I kept going forward, amused that he was actually afraid of me, the woman he barks at almost daily with ferocity!  I got him backed up all the way to the front door, and his owners came out – seriously the sweetest people!  They thanked me as I told them of his little adventure through our yard and on the street in front.  We laughed and I told him bye.

He growled.

Secretly I think he loves me… maybe I like him a little more than I thought, too.

 

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