Category: Grown-Ups (page 1 of 6)

Heaven & Nature Sing

Each of Hannah Anderson’s books is more beautiful than the last (and I say this as a bit of a fan girl who has read each of her books at least once). She has a gift for seeing clearly and for articulating what she sees in language both beautiful and incisive at once. Many of her books pair this clear sight with illustrations of the natural world, which I love: the illustrations make the books themselves things of beauty—works of art to be savored and lingered over.

Not dry and academic, these books. But not flowery or theologically soft, either.

Heaven and Nature Sing, by Hannah Anderson | Little Book, Big Story

Heaven and Nature is Hannah Anderson’s work at its best. This is a collection of essays intended for Advent reading—for you, perhaps, or for older children or teens. In each essay Anderson weaves personal stories with Scripture, exploration of the natural world with illustrations by her husband, Nathan Anderson. This is a very humble, inviting Advent book: not full of crafts you won’t get to or lengthy readings you won’t finish. These essays feel like a gift in themselves, an invitation to pause and consider and prepare for the celebration of Christmas. Heaven and Nature Sing is beautiful inside and out.

Heaven and Nature Sing: 25 Advent Reflections to Bring Joy to the World
Hannah Anderson; Nathan Anderson (2022)

The Pursuit

When it comes to talking about tough subjects with my daughters, I find that some of the best resources aren’t the ones that script the conversation for me, but the ones that shape my own thinking and help me approach the conversation as an ongoing one that won’t be neatly resolved in one intentional afternoon. With that in mind, I’m sharing a book today that isn’t meant to be read to or with children, but that can help us, as parents, think through a sticky topic and go into those conversations feeling prepared.

And by “sticky topic,” I mean sex. So we’ll be talking about that today.

The Pursuit, by Josh Livingston & Dan Martin | Little Book, Big Story

How we can or should or must not talk to kids about sex and sexuality is a big, big issue today, within the church as well as outside it. And dang it, if it doesn’t feel overwhelming sometimes! Like there are so many ways to get it wrong, and if you fail, your child will [insert devastating outcome here] and it will be all your fault. The separation between what the culture around us says about our bodies and what Scripture says about them feels pretty vast at times, and all of us enter that conversation with our own experiences and understandings about what sex is and what it isn’t.

I didn’t become a Christian until I was seventeen, so I only caught the tail end of the youth group discussions on sexual purity—up until then, my perspective was largely formed by MTV and those unsettling conversations in the back seat of the bus. So I come to this discussion having lived for a bit in both worlds, and from my vantage point the authors of The Pursuit have found a beautifully balanced way of discussing sexuality. They respond thoughtfully to the things many of us heard from our youth pastors as well as the things we’ve heard from the media, and they ask, “But what does the Bible say about our bodies and our sexuality, really?” By unwinding the language of purity culture, authors Josh Livingstone and Dan Martin help us see the beauty of how God created us and where our sexuality belongs as part of our lives as Christians. They encourage us to view sexual purity not as a race that ends at a “wedding night” finish line, but as a facet of our relationship with Christ—an aspect of our obedience to him that we continue to cultivate in differing forms throughout every season of life.

There are a lot of great resources out there on where babies come from that are meant to be read with children (I’ve reviewed a few of them here, and our family is currently working our way through this series), but The Pursuit is a great foundational read for parents. While so many approaches focus on either “finding our own truth” about sexuality or on prescribing a very narrow picture of sexual purity, complete with extra-biblical rules for living, Livingstone and Martin remind us that our sexuality is a good gift from God that is deeply woven into who we are. As Christians, they remind us, we are called to live it out in a way that glorifies God and creates a picture of his goodness and mercy in this broken world. This is, ultimately, a joyful picture we get to offer our children—one filled with hope and grace.

The Pursuit: Reframing Purity as a Relationship Not an Accomplishment
Josh Livingstone & Dan Martin (2022)

Disclosure: I did receive a copy of this book for review, but I was not obligated to review it or compensated for my review in any way. I share this book with you because I love it, not because I was paid to do so.

Bonus Post! Only the Lover Sings

Are you familiar with Matthew Clark? I hope so! He’s a singer-songwriter from Mississippi who travels in his trusty van, Vandalf the White, and brings music and beauty with him wherever he goes.

But his work doesn’t begin and end with music. I first met him while editing an essay he contributed to J.R.R. Tolkien and the Arts, and again when he contributed a chapter to Wild Things & Castles in the Sky. Now he’s the mastermind behind Only the Lover Sings—an album of his own music, accompanied by an anthology of essays written by various authors who each respond to one of his songs.

Did you follow that? I barely did. Let’s see if I can say it more clearly. For the book Only the Lover Sings, Matthew recruited a handful of writers (such as Andrew Roycroft, Lanier Ivester, and more) and invited us to choose a song from his album to write about. Our assignment was not to analyze the song or interpret it, but to respond to it, each in our own way, and the result is a diverse but beautifully braided collection of essays that weave in and out of one another. Some are more scholarly; others are stories. All explore some aspect of the story of the woman at the well.

If you’d like to know more about Only the Lover Sings, I encourage you to listen to Matthew Clark’s podcast, One Thousand Words, where he invites each contributor to read a portion of their essay. You can find the podcast here, my episode here, and the book itself there.

Now Available! Wild Things & Castles in the Sky

It’s official: you can now order a copy of Wild Things & Castles in the Sky: A Guide to Choosing the Best Books for Children, and it will arrive at your house—an actual book you can hold, and read, and smell!

Wild Things & Castles in the Sky, ed. Leslie & Carey Bustard, Thea Rosenburg | Little Book, Big Story

Another fun thing that’s now available: a new episode of the Square Halo podcast, in which co-editors Leslie Bustard, Carey Bustard, and I discuss children’s books, this book, and various and sundry other things.

And as this book makes its way out into the world, I thought I’d share with you a few fun, book-promote-y resources I think you might enjoy:

And these four all gave it five-star reviews over the dinner table:

So, where can you order a copy? The best place to get it right now is directly through Square Halo Books or through Hearts & Minds Bookstore (scroll to the bottom of that link for a discount code and ordering instructions).

And if you go to places like Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, ThriftBooks, or Bookshop and add the book to your cart, that shows those big guys that people are interested in the book and helps us get it listed on their sites. Reviews are helpful too, as are shares on social media and so forth! We’d be so grateful for anything you’re willing to do to help us introduce other readers to the book (and, thus, to the beautiful books mentioned within it).

Lastly: thank you all so much for your support and encouragement! For all your wonderful book recommendations; for every time you’ve gone in search of a book mentioned here and shared it with your family and friends; for the emails that have arrived just when I considered quitting and—I don’t use this word lightly—literally inspired me to keep writing and reviewing: thank you, thank you. I hope there is a library in the new heavens and the new earth, and that we get to gather there one day and share our favorite stories! I’d love to hug you.

Coming Soon: A Book!

A large percentage of the books on our family shelves are actually about books. They’re books within books, if you will, and they’re filled with wisdom on how to read with children, why to read with children, and—best of all—what to read with them. The closing chapters of these books are always my favorites: they’re full of fascinating book lists.

I wouldn’t be in this business if I didn’t love book lists. (My blog is, after all, essentially a nine-years-long book list.) And so I am pleased to introduce you to Wild Things and Castles in the Sky: A Guide to Choosing the Best Books for Children. This is an anthology of essays, edited by Leslie Bustard, her daughter Carey Bustard, and myself. With over forty essays written by dozens of contributors, Wild Things covers a range of reading-related topics, from fairy tales to graphic novels, classics to contemporary works, board books to Shakespeare. It’s all in there—the how, the why, and the what. A few of the stellar contributors are:

Cindy Rollins — author of Mere Motherhood and all-around homeschool guru
Missy Andrews — of BiblioFiles and Center for Lit!
Mitali Perkins — author of Steeped in Stories
Carolyn Leiloglou — author of Library’s Most Wanted
Katy Hutson — of Rain for Roots
Dorena Williamson — author of GraceFull
Carolyn Clare Givens — author of Rosefire
Matthew Clark — singer/songwriter
. . . and lots, lots more!

The essayists write from a variety of backgrounds, and while their interests and tastes vary (assuring there’s something in this book for everyone) every essayist recommends books full of truth, beauty, and goodness. (I know, because we read a lot of them as I wrote my chapters and edited the rest. Our library basket overfloweth!)

The book will be published this spring by Square Halo Books (the official listing is here, and you can pre-order a copy there). In the meantime, I’ll be sharing some books here that our family found through this project that I think you’ll love—books the other Wild Things contributors introduced us to. The Square Halo blog is also running posts by the editors and contributors, and we’re sharing even more wonderful books over there. If your library basket also overfloweth, our work is done!

Pictured above: all books mentioned somewhere in Wild Things & Castles in the Sky. Every one of them is worth reading!

Wild Things and Castles in the Sky: A Guide to Choosing the Best Books for Children
Ed. Leslie Bustard, Carey Bustard, Théa Rosenburg (2022)