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The Importance of Good Books

Updated: Apr 8


Photo by Aaron Burden


“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”– Neil Gaiman


“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”– William Styron


“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”– C.S. Lewis


“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”– C.S. Lewis


“A capacity, and taste, for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.”Abraham Lincoln


I try and have at least two books I am reading through at a time. Books about Christ. Classics never read. Leadership publications. Historical treatises. Science fiction and fantasy works. A western once in two blue moons. One third of the time I reopen a book I have read as many as three times already. I want our students to have experiences of reading a wide variety of books like I have.


And I read exclusively books written on paper. Though I look for copies with print a little larger than my younger days.


Students prefer paper to books on a computer. It is not even a close contest.


Here is the first paragraph from an article written by Katherine Derla of Techtimes on just that.


Researchers asked more than 420 university students from the U.S., Slovakia, Japan and Germany in 2010 and 2013. They found that 92 percent preferred paper books instead of e-books.


Not all books are good. Few are well written. But, a well written book that is good, then that is a book worth reading, sometimes again and again.


And I want our students to read good books. That is why all of the grade level books are handpicked. My desire is for our students to have read different genres, different authors, different backgrounds of life. But the one unifying strand for all the books is a Christian world view.


From Trevor Cairney, a Professor of Education at the University of Australia in Sydney, Australia and associated with CARE, the Centre for Apologetic Scholarship and Education is a pretty good list of " 5 main ways that Christian writers of children's books can point their readers towards God's divine narrative of redemption:"


"Type 1 – Stories that directly present the Christian gospel explicitly, often in the form of the retelling of Bible stories suitable for children. Children’s Bibles and collections of Bible stories fall into this category.

Type 2 – Stories that allegorically present the gospel (e.g. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress).

Type 3– Stories that present or address essential biblical understandings and teaching; where the key elements of the Biblical plan of salvation are woven within the story, or can be seen as explicitly reflecting the key elements of the divine narrative (e.g. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis). While some would see the latter as allegory, Lewis denied this and instead claimed that the narrative came first and the biblical parallels followed.

Type 4 – Moral tales that have direct biblical parallels or that reflect moral principles consistent with the Bible’s teaching (e.g. evil will be punished; sin has consequences; honesty is better than falsehood). Nursery rhymes and many fairy tales fall into this category, as do many cautionary tales (of course not all such tales reflect biblical moral insights, but many do).

Type 5 – This is really a variation or extension of the above. Here the links or parallels are at the thematic level rather than in the form of moral teaching. Stories of this kind demonstrate or echo biblical teaching (e.g. salvation narratives, stories of redemption, parallels to biblical narratives or parables). These narratives parallel the gospel narrative without explicit commentary. Such stories can be read at one level as simply a nice tale, but at another level the key themes parallel biblical themes that can be discussed."


And I would say that many books not written by Christians are able to have these qualities also.


There are some books that have been out for a while, written by Christians, that we do not have in our library for our students to read because the books are so poorly written that no student likes reading them.


Over time I will be updating this blog with our list of grade level books our students will have a choice to read.


First Grade

Clifford the Big Red Dog

Mudge series

Berenstein Bears

Biscuit

Green Eggs and Ham

Are You My Mother?

The Ear Book

Snowball Soup

One Fish Two Fish

Fox and His Friends

Mr. Brown Can Moo

There is a Bird on Your Head

Frog and Toad


Second Grade

Boxcar Children #1-5

Stone Fox

Landmark biographies

Flat Stanley

Galaxy Zack

Cam Jansen

A Bargain for Francis

Nate the Great

Henry and Mudge

Hill of Fire

Mouse Tales


Third Grade

Black Beauty

Charlotte's Web

Number the Stars

Landmark biographies

Tree in the Trail

Justin Morgan Had a Horse

Swift Rivers

Calico Bush

Carry On Mr. Bowditch

The Journeyman

Knucklehead:Tall Tales

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters

The Castle in the Attic

A Lion to Guard Us

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims

Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground

Meet George Washington(Landmark)

Sarah Plain and Tall

Meet Thomas Jefferson(Landmark)

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain

The Thanksgiving Story(Dalgliesh)

Wayside School

Spiderwick Chronicles

Henry's Freedom Box

Muggiest Maggie

The Chocolate Touch

Bunnicula

Sideways Stories from Wayside School


Fourth Grade

Little House on the Prairie books

Landmark biographies

Fables(Lobel)

Percy Jackson

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Six Dots

Fortunately, the Milk

The Jungle Book

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail

Inside Out and Back Again

The Right Word(Bryant)

The Quilt Walk

Ramona Quimby

Beverly Cleary books




Fifth Grade

The Chronicles of Narnia

Landmark biographies

Treasure Island

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Descendants(Cruz)

The Indian in the Cupboard

Lost in the Pacific(Olson)

Treasure Hunters(Patterson)

Call It Courage

Number the Stars

Where the Red Fern Grows

Hatchet


Sixth Grade

Redwall

Where the Red Fern Grows

The Hobbit

Landmark biographies

Black Beauty

Space Case(Gibbs)

The Secret Garden

Princess Academy

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Cricket in Times Square

Old Yeller

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