inspire courage

The Faithful Spy

Part graphic novel, but also not really I wasn’t sure how this book would read when I picked it up. Wow, it was so inspiring I couldn’t put it down and closed it with tears in my eyes. I could not wait to recommend it to you.

Bonhoeffer’s story is amazing on its own. He stood up to Hitler when so many Germans did not. John Hendrix tells Bonhoeffer’s story in a fresh way. He uses illustrations and color to tell the story of Hitler’s rise to power in tandem with Bonhoeffer’s story. Sharing so much of the history of the Nazi party and Germany gives readers a wider perspective as they read. Obviously, Hendrix could not include everything, but the parts of the story he did tell were well-chosen and well-told. This book was amazing.

Quick Picks: What I’ve Been Reading

You know the feeling when you finish a good book and you want to tell someone about it?  Well, I've got that feeling. This list of books doesn’t fit on any of the upcoming book lists I have planned. I wanted to share them anyway.

If your kids are participating in the Young Book Love Bingo Reading Challenge, the books on this list will help them fill in the square “a book about someone who doesn’t look like you.” (The characters include people from Pakistan and India along with Americans with different shades of skin.) If your kids aren’t participating in the Reading Challenge and want to, you can find out more (and print off a free Bingo board) here.

Below are four books I read over the past month that I am excited to recommend. I hope your young reader will connect with them too.

Full Cicada Moon

Full Cicada Moon is a book that inspires courage. As astronauts take their first step on the moon, Mimi has her first day at an all new predominantly white school. The book follows Mimi’s first year in Vermont as she tries to make friends, fit in and find her place. 

This novel in verse is full of important themes and ideas I want my kids to think about:

  • What does courage look like?
  • How we treat people matters.
  • People are so much more than a “race” so take the time to get to know them. 

10 Books to Celebrate and Learn from Black History

February is Black History month, and in my mind there is no better way to learn about and from history than through the power of story. From slavery to the civil rights movement, African Americans in our country have walked a road marked with hate and injustice. That said, I am reminded of a quote by Fred Rogers:  When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.

It's true. In the midst of tough and scary things, there are always helpers; and in the darkest times of African American history in our country, there were bold and brave, multi-colored helpers. 

Obviously, racial issues are still a struggle today. Reading stories of others who stood up to hate or were the target of it builds compassion in our kids. It opens the door to conversations that need to happen in our homes and in the larger world abroad. I hope this list of books is one that will help all of us seek to understand, help us to remember the past, and inspire us to continue to work towards healing and compassion in the future.  

The Lions of Little Rock

The Little Rock 9 are a well-known group of brave African American students who enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The following year, the Little Rock High School (with the blessing of the governor of Arkansas) made the decision to close instead of allowing desegregation to take place. The Lions of Little Rock follows an unlikely friendship between two junior high girls in 1958, the year the high school closed. This was a piece of history that I was unfamiliar with, and I loved learning about it through the eyes of Marlee. 

The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom is an amazing little book. Set in one of the darkest times and places in recent history, it shines with hope, wisdom and love. I thought it might be a hard to read because parts of this story, parts of Corrie’s life, were unimaginably hard. Instead, I found that it was filled with reminder after reminder of God’s presence in the midst of the unimaginable. Reading it was not a dark and despairing experience, but a hope-filled one. Even the saddest parts were filled with hope because of God’s work in the lives of his servants.

8 World War II Book Recommendations for Kids

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to accompany my daughter on a field trip to a Holocaust museum. As to be expected, it was a sobering experience. I remember our guide telling us there were three kinds of people participating in the events of that time; corroborators, bystanders, and up-standers. The corroborators aligned themselves with Hitler and helped him carry out his work. Bystanders, didn’t necessarily align themselves with Hitler, but they did nothing to stop him and nothing to help. Up-standers, on the other hand took a stand for what was right and worked in small or big ways to make a difference. 

Over the past few months I have been reading a variety of books set against the backdrop of World War 2. The following list of book recommendations follow characters that experienced this historical period from many different perspectives and locations. These stories are filled with tales of up-standers. Some are more subtle than others, but all offer us lessons to learn from. In my opinion, lessons wrapped up in a good story oftentimes make the biggest impact, help us to remember, and maybe spur us on to make a difference in our own time and place.

If you are looking for Historical Fiction (plus one nonfiction) set against the backdrop of World War 2, below are eight-ish suggestions, separated by setting.

Rain Reign

This is one of those books that sticks with you long after you have read it. Watching Rose grow and evolve through her relationship with Rain is a joy. Her bravery in the face of hard circumstances and tough choices is inspiring. She has a lot to teach those who read along, young and old alike. I hope you will consider Rain, Reign for your young readers. It is most definitely one of the good ones!