Category: Ages 8–11 (page 5 of 29)

Bible Games Central

Back when we homeschooled on purpose, games were a big part of our time together. I quickly learned that it is one thing to read about a subject, another thing to discuss it, and still another thing to play a game about it. Something about moving actual cards or pieces around with our own two hands made the lessons stick in a different way (and the games often reduced us to giggles, which is always a win).

We collected math games and logic games; we bought decks of cards illustrated with pictures of local birds and flowers; we played games with words and language. Despite not being much of a game player before that (which is a gentle way of saying that I was strongly averse to anything with a dice, cards, or board), playing games with my daughters quickly became one of my favorite parts of our school day. In the years since, we’ve found many games we love (our current favorite? Star Realms), but only a handful that would feel at home here, on a blog about books.

But these games from Bible Games Central fit right in, focused as they are on teaching players to recognize the way Scripture fits together. They are designed to help players build their foundational knowledge of the Bible, but let me tell you: if they had been of the “Match Daniel with the lion!” variety, I wouldn’t have given them a second look. But they are not.

Bible Memory

Bible Memory, from Bible Games Central | Little Book, Big Story

By using cards color-coded according to which genre they belong to, this Bible Memory game helps players (young and old) identify the way the Bible fits together. This is a huge deck of cards, and it comes with a list of variations for the game—play with only the New Testament books, for example, or with only the prophets—so this is really a handful of games in one box.

Bible Bingo

Bible Bingo, from Bible Games Central | Little Book, Big Story

You know what I love? Games my kids can play on their own while I sit nearby with tea, listening to them giggle (and perhaps giggling a little myself when the youngest tries to pronounce “Ephesians”). This is a version of the classic bingo game, but with books of the Bible on each bingo card as well as illustrations that point to a main theme of the book.

(Christmas Bingo is solid fun, too.)

Parable Parade

Parable Parade, from Bible Memory, from Bible Games Central | Little Book, Big Story

While the other two focus on teaching familiarity with the books of the Bible, Parable Parade introduces some of the stories of Scripture by challenging players to collect cards and put the storyline of a parable in order. This game digs deeper, too, and encourages discussion about the parable’s meaning.

Disclosure: I did receive copies of these games for review, but I was not obligated to review them or compensated for my review in any way. I share these games with you because our family enjoyed them, not because I was paid to do so.

The Fabled Stables: Willa the Wisp

It takes a certain sort of magic to write a book that appeals to a whole family: preschooler to middle-schooler, adults as well. But The Fabled Stables, Jonathan Auxier’s newest book, has that magic. Auggie is a child with a job (but not the kind of job mentioned in Auxier’s other book Sweep). He works in the Fabled Stables as caretaker of one-of-a-kind animals.

The Fabled Stables: Willa the Wisp, by Jonathan Auxier | Little Book, Big Story

When I first ordered this book I expected it to be—like Auxier’s other books—a chapter book for older kids. But no! The Fabled Stables is a chapter book for young readers, every page of it exuberantly illustrated by Olga Demidova. My older daughters loved finding the Easter eggs linking the Fabled Stables to Auxier’s Peter Nimble books; my younger daughters, who have not yet received their invitations to Peter Nimble’s world, adored everything else about the book.

The Fabled Stables: Willa the Wisp, by Jonathan Auxier | Little Book, Big Story

Best of all, The Fabled Stables seems to be have a sequel already in the works, so we have many more delightful evenings of reading to look forward to.

The Fabled Stables: Willa the Wisp
Jonathan Auxier; Olga Demidova (2020)

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

I recently realized I’d been skimping on read-alouds by choosing books my eldest daughter had already read, or by rereading old favorites. There’s a place for that—of course there is. But I’d leaned on old favorites for a couple of years and couldn’t remember, when pressed, when I’d last read a book to the family that enraptured her the same way it enraptured the younger girls.

So I proceeded with haste to the pile of book in our bedroom, the one by my desk, made of books I set aside to pre-read and release as needed into the wilds of the family library. And from the top of the pile, I drew Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo | Little Book, Big Story

How to describe this book? Everything about it—story, illustrations, even the format and font size—are just slightly unlike any other book we own. It’s a chapter book, but the way it’s arranged, with a large font and full-color illustrations, makes it accessible to young readers. The illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline (Great Joy) are stunning and add a beauty and gravity to the story.

And the story itself? Edward Tulane’s journey reminds me of The Velveteen Rabbit in the way it lends dignity to a toy rabbit and tells of his journey from toy to real rabbit. Edward’s journey, though, isn’t about becoming a real, live rabbit: his journey to become “real” is a deeper, more subtle one. It takes him outside the nursery and into the world, where he learns—one heart-breaking lesson at a time—what it is to love. And to love not just one person one time, but to love again, even after he learns that loving another opens him up to the possible pain of loss. Edward Tulane learns to love in a way that is costly to him.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo | Little Book, Big Story

This book spoke deeply to me, and I could see it working quietly on all of our daughters as we read it aloud before bed. At a time when it’s tempting to close ourselves off from those outside our household, rather than long for a closeness that we cannot have right now, I am profoundly grateful for The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. This book reminded us that love is worth the risk, worth the cost. And that costly love will be rewarded.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Kate DiCamillo; Bagram Ibatoulline (2006)

Sammy & His Shepherd

The Lord is our shepherd—but what exactly does that mean to a child who lives miles from the nearest sheep?

In Sammy and His Shepherd, Susan Hunt walks families through the twenty-third psalm one verse at a time, showing readers what it means for a good shepherd to lead his flock to still waters or through dark valleys. She does this through the story of Sammy, a sheep who lives within the Good Shepherd’s fold, and of Sammy’s friend, a neglected sheep living in the neighboring pasture.

Sammy and His Shepherd, by Susan Hunt | Little Book, Big Story

Sammy’s friend has never experienced the care that Sammy’s shepherd gives him, and as Sammy explains it to her, Sammy begins to appreciate more fully the gift it is to belong to the Good Shepherd. And when the shepherd purchases Sammy’s friend and welcomes her into his flock, Sammy walks alongside her and helps her learn to trust her new shepherd’s care even when she doesn’t fully understand it.

Sammy and His Shepherd, by Susan Hunt | Little Book, Big Story

Part devotional, part storybook, Sammy and His Shepherd illustrates the relationship of a good shepherd to his sheep so beautifully that I find myself thinking about it still, weeks after we finished the book. And it’s clear I’m not the only one still thinking about it: our daughters have been sketching sheep and shepherds since the book’s end. By telling this as a story, rather than as a straightforward devotional, Susan Hunt has given us something to picture when we read Psalm 23. And she has helped my daughters take that psalm—and the glorious truths within it—to heart in a new way.

Sammy and His Shepherd: Seeing Jesus in Psalm 23
Susan Hunt; Cory Godbey (2008)

Words With Wings

Words With Wings is the story of Gabby, a girl who no longer seems to fit. She used to fit with her father, but after her parents’ divorce, he doesn’t live with her anymore. She used to fit with her best friend, but since the move, Gabby’s changed schools. Now she’s the new girl, the one often caught daydreaming in class.

Gabby and her father used to imagine all sorts of things together; her best friend understood Gabby. But her mom doesn’t quite: she worries about Gabby’s daydreaming and about how absent-minded Gabby has become. Nikki Grimes (At Jerusalem’s Gate) tells a beautiful story of a young girl whose imagination—once a source of play and delight—becomes a refuge from a world that seems all at once foreign and unpredictable. Told through a series of poems, Words With Wings moves in and out between Gabby’s day-to-day life and her daydreams, allowing us into her imagined worlds where anything is possible.

Words with Wings, by Nikki Grimes | Little Book, Big Story

Those around Gabby seem uncertain about whether her imagination is a gift or an obstacle to be overcome. Gabby wonders about that herself. But as a woman who was once a child like Gabby, and as a mother to children who are also an awful lot like Gabby, let me tell you: there is something beautiful about the way Grimes allows Gabby and her family to wrestle through that. She gives a name to something we don’t often know how to name, and a place for an ability people often consider frivolous. Grimes reminds us that poetry is a part of who we are.

Words With Wings
Nikki Grimes (2013)