Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Great nonfiction books about families

The gift of the love of reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. And to build on that, turning their love of reading towards good, quality, character building books will last them a lifetime and make a big impact on their lives.
Many times I have heard parents lament that their children don’t enjoy reading. If I question them further, I will usually find that they are not giving their children good books that will spark their interest. Or they are not giving them enough good books to keep their interest perked up. Another problem is that the parents of younger children do not buy books that the parents themselves enjoy reading to their children. As a homeschooling mother of ten children, I have read thousand of books aloud to my children, and for the sake of my sanity, I’ve always tried to find books that I enjoy reading as well as books my children enjoy listening too.
I enjoy reading nonfiction as well as fiction to my children, and nonfiction what this article will focus on.

One of the most loved series of children’s books is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” series. Laura Ingalls Wilder is a gifted writer who brings the prairie days to life with her stories about growing up with a father who has the pioneer spirit. He moves his family about often in her early years for various reasons, but the stability and closeness her family has shines through on the pages of her books. They support each other through prairie fires and an illness that takes Laura’s older sister, Mary’s, eyesight. We cry through the death of the family’s faithful dog, Jack, and tremble with them when Indians wearing skunk skins enter their house and demand to be fed, and then steal some of their food. My favorite of these eight books has always been “The Long Winter”, which I love to read during the long hot summers of Texas.

Another series of books that my sons and I have enjoyed are the “Little Britches” series by Ralph Moody. Like the “Little House” books, this series follows Ralph Moody from his young childhood through adulthood during the early 1900’s. In the first book, the family moves to Colorado, hoping the climate will help the father get well from a plaguing illness. They live in poverty as they scratch out a living and Ralph and his father make a home and a ranch out of basically nothing. The father dies in the first book, and young Ralph becomes the man of the family, and his story continues on in the rest of the books, as his mother struggles to raise her five children, one born a few months after the father’s death. These books have a wonderful work ethic in them as the family pulls together and no one is idle. My favorite of them all was “The Home Ranch”, where Ralph goes to live with his grandfather for a while. I have read that one many times, even without my children listening.
The only drawback to these books is that Ralph Moody does include the true language of the people he works with, and there is a slight amount of taking the Lord’s name in vain and a couple of times he includes curse words. When reading to my children, I always substituted something else for these words, and the quality of the book was not affected at all.

Another author worth reading is Louisa May Alcott, who wrote the famous “Little Women”, along with some other lesser known books, “Little Men” and “Jo’s Boys”. These books follow the life of teenage Jo on through her marriage and adulthood, where she and her husband run a home for orphan boys. These books, like the other series mentioned, show a good work ethic and strong families pulling together in poverty and other life changing circumstances.

Parents, it is in your hands to help shape your child’s life through good, character building books. The love of reading and discernment to know what is worthwhile and what isn’t is a life long gift you can give your child!

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