For certain friends, I will read anything. If they tell me that I will love what turns out to be, in part, a thousand-page Norwegian romance, I’ll raise my eyebrows and read it, simply because they told me to. Somehow, those friends only recommend books that are pure gold. (And that aforementioned book, Kristen Lavransdatter? Gold.)
If it’s not too bold to say so, I’d like to be one of those friends for you. I’d like it if you found your way back here again and again—when you need a new story Bible, perhaps, or a gift idea for a granddaughter, or a new chapter book to read with your son.
Obviously, we can’t talk over tea while our kids race up and down the hall in tutus and Batman masks, but I can tell you a little about myself so that you have a rough idea of who I am, and why I bother writing about books.
Who I am
My name is Théa (it rhymes with “Princess Leia”). I live in the Pacific Northwest, among the ferns and slugs and spectacular falls. Mitch, my husband of thirteen years, makes a mean pot of Earl Grey tea with just the right amount of honey. Our daughters, Lydia, Sarah, Phoebe, and Josephine are 9, 6, 3 and 1.
My other interests include: singing silly songs, singing serious songs, planting poppies, writing for you, writing for my daughters, and working as a contributor and copy editor for the beautiful and theologically rich magazine, Deeply Rooted. We live in a one hundred and eleventy-year-old house with two cats, a piano, and a vegetable garden.
But beneath all of those things, I am a Christian who loves the Lord and values his Word, and who strives to reflect his love in every aspect of my life—particularly for the sake of those little ones who watch my every move.
The gospel is the ultimate story that shows victory coming out of defeat, strength coming out of weakness, life coming out of death, rescue from abandonment. And because it is a true story, it gives us hope because we know life is really like that.
Our house is full of books. They’re tucked into corners and stacked on counters, and yes, we actually read them. I am more of a curator of books than a collector these days, and I’m curating a library for our whole family—one that’s full of classics, theology, poetry and those adventure stories that make you want to drop onto the couch for a week and forget about everything else (I’m not allowed to read those very often).
So, I love a good book. But I especially love a good children’s book. Fiction or nonfiction, Christian or not, some children’s authors succeed at communicating truth in a way that other authors fail to do, no matter how many pages they’re given.
I can get a little opinionated about this. And that is . . .
Why I bother writing about books
There are so many books out there. Some of them are wonderful, some are mediocre and some of them bitterly disappointing. In our era of online shopping, where everything is accessible, you cannot weigh the book in your hand and scan the pages before you purchase, so it can be hard to know what is truly worth your time and money.
That is where book blogs come in.
If we begin by choosing the tried and true, the best of literature, we will give the child a love of excellence and the really “good.” As we go on reading he will find that there are distressing happenings, stories which need discussion. Literature can help children think about what life is like before they live it as adults.
-Susan Schaeffer Macauley
This part of the post originally read, “Now, I am not a children’s librarian, and I haven’t set foot inside a classroom since I was, myself, a student,” but those claims—that I am neither a librarian or a teacher—are no longer true. God has, in his clever way, seen to it that I was, for a time, both librarian and art teacher at my daughters’ small school.
Still, in an official teaching-degree sort of way, I am not terribly qualified to write a blog about children’s literature. But I do read (a lot) and I read passionately, and I love sharing with people why, specifically, a certain book made me glad to be alive. I did major in creative writing (which means I can be terribly snobbish about certain things), and I love writing stories for my own children.
This blog features the best of the books to grace our shelves. I focus mostly on Christian books, since there are some real gems out there amidst the twaddle (to borrow the word from Charlotte Mason), and those are a little harder to find in libraries and local bookstores.
But notice that I said “mostly”: there are a number of wonderful children’s books available that may or may not be written by a Christian author, but that nevertheless, strike some clear and honest chord in our hearts—books that are slathered with truth and beauty, whatever the background and beliefs of the author. These are certainly worth including.
And that, my friend, is enough about me. If you would be so kind, I would love to know a little about you! Please feel free to comment as you read the posts on this blog, so I can learn a little about you, too.
When reading my reviews, it may help you to know about a few things that have influenced the way I read books in general and children’s books in specific.
First of all, I owe a great debt to Aslan’s Library, the blog that introduced me to a number of these books and inspired me to start this blog. I hope that my reviews won’t duplicate theirs but will, instead, introduce those books to a few more families that may not have had the good fortune to find Haley and Sarah’s wonderful blog. (But it’s not too late! You can go there now.)
And now, for the books that have shaped the way I read:
Timothy Keller, Jesus the King
Susan Schaeffer Macauley, For the Children’s Sake
Gladys Hunt, Honey For a Child’s Heart
Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, The Well-Trained Mind
James A. Sire, The Universe Next Door
Edith Schaeffer, What is a Family?
Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
Sarah Clarkson, Caught Up in a Story
Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death
I also love Sarah MacKenzie’s podcast, Read-Aloud Revival. If anything on my blog resonates with you at all, then I have a strong hunch that you will love her podcast, too!
Last, but not least, thank you to my husband Mitch, who made this blog beautiful (and beautifully functional).