Monday, April 14, 2008

Tomes for Tots Tuesdays--Inaugural Edition

Tomes for Tots
In doing research for "official" homeschooling, one of the things I've most enjoyed is finding books to read aloud. I am a firm believer that reading aloud to our children is one of the most important things we can do to foster our children's academic development. It has been such a treasure to rediscover my favorite books from childhood and to see my children enjoy them, too. I've also enjoyed the quest to explore this vast world of children's literature and find new-to-us titles. I am particularly interested to find solid, inspiring, and imaginative classics in the slick, commercial, and all-too-often vapid world of today's publishing. On Tuesdays, I'd like to share what I've found with you.

For the first few weeks, you'll be getting reviews of two books: one, a book about reading to children for adults, and two, an actual children's book. The book about reading today is Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt.

Hunt's book is a delight, unique in its Christian approach in choosing books for children. The nine chapters explain the importance of choosing good books for children and what exactly makes a good book, fantasy, poetry, reading aloud together as a family and reading aloud from the Bible. The bibliography at the back lists a multitude of books with short descriptions and they are divided into several categories: Preschoolers through Grade 3, Grades 4-6, Teens & Mature Readers, Poetry, Christmas Books, Helping Preschoolers through Third Graders Grow as Christians, Helping Third Through Sixth Graders Grow as Christians, Helping Teens & Mature Readers Grow as Christians. The book titles listed in these categories are arranged according to complexity. The edition from the library I read was published in 1978, but I'm looking forward to ordering the newer edition, which I'm sure includes an updated bibliography. Here is one of my favorite quotations from Honey from a Child's Heart:

What I am saying is simply this: As Christian parents we are concerned about building whole people—people who are alive emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. The instruction to train up a child in the way he should go encompasses so much more than teaching him the facts of the gospel. It is to train the child’s character, to give him high ideals, and to encourage integrity. It is to provide largeness of thought, creative thinking, imaginative wondering—an adequate view of God and His world. . . . We have books and the Book at our disposal to use wisely for God’s glory. A young child, a fresh uncluttered mind, a world before him—to what treasures will you lead him? With what will you furnish his spirit?

Here is a tomely treasure to which you can lead your child: Cynthia Coppersmith's Violet Comes to Stay. You may recognize the names from the Mitford series by Jan Karon, who teamed with writer Melanie Cecka and illustrator Emily Arnold McCully to bring Violet the playful cat to life. Violet, her brother, and her sister have spent their young lives in the pantry and kitchen of the house on top of a hill and one day are selected for new homes. Violet, however, doesn't seem to fit in at either of her two new homes. Each time she is returned to the house on the hill, her mother reassures that God has a special plan for her. Finally, Violet does find that special plan when she comes to stay with a bookstore owner (and what could be a better home than a bookstore?). This theme of God's timing and plan for us is found throughout the book and in the quotation of Ecclesiastes 3:1 at the front of the book: For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

We were not led to this book through my slightly obsessive-compulsive spreadsheet of titles recommended from various sources, but simply by perusing the shelves in the children's section of the library. We took it home where it became a read-aloud favorite, so much so that the book was purchased, along with the sequel, Violet Goes to the Country.

I hope that these titles help you along on your own journey of discovering Tomes for Tots.
Happy Reading!


Renae said...

Thanks for sharing more great books!

Reading is our favorite time together. Every night we have story time and they cry if we miss it.

Peace to you,
Life Nurturing Education

Sandra said...

Wow. I had recently written a post about how I felt that the two days out of the week we are going to church was not enough to spiritually feed my children. I'm definitely picking up "Honey for a Child's Heart" and see where that leads us. Thanks so much for sharing!