Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Christmas Time's A'Comin'

Christmas?!?  But it's only September!!  Yes, but time goes so fast.  Christmas is three months from today so I thought it would be great to post some past and future favorite Christmas titles.  Every year I find wonderful blog posts about favorite Christmas titles...four days before Christmas and too late to do anything about it.  So here is my list early so you can make your Advent reading plans in plenty of time.  I encourage you to choose a book (or more) from this list or from your own favorites to treasure with your family this year.  It is one of our most blessed traditions. 

A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy - One of the most beautiful books I've ever read.  Truly.  This book is so special I have three copies.  (Exciting update HERE!!!!!!)

This Way to Christmas by Ruth Sawyer was one of our reads last year.  David is a young boy who is separated from his parents during WWI and, in his lonliness, discovers how to give the joy of Christmas to others.  We loved it.  This book has been reprinted by Yesterday's Classics.

Stars Over Bethlehem by Opal Wheeler - You probably know Opal Wheeler from her endearing composer biographies.  Inspired by the carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, as a child, Opal dreamed of traveling to Bethlehem on the night of Christ's birth.  This book tells of her pilgrimage.  A special treat mom will enjoy, it is short enough to read in one sitting.

I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge - Can anyone resist a book written by Goudge?  Polly, who lives with her two maiden aunts after the death of her parents, is certain a miracle will happen at Christmas.  Charming.

A Song for Young King Wenceslas by Cecil Maiden - I've been fascinated with the story of Good King Wenceslas ever since learning to play the song on the piano as a child.  This is a chapter book for children.  Stephen's Feast and Wenceslas are excellent picture books.

Speaking of picture books, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski is my all-time favorite.  I see this version comes with a CD narrated by James Earl Jones.  I might need to invest in it because I can't make it through this book without crying.

A Certain Small Shepherd by Rebecca Caudill is another touching story of a mute boy and his special Christmas miracle.

The Trees Kneel at Christmas by Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the beloved Betsy-Tacy series, tells of a Lebanese-American family during the holiday season.  Miracles seems to be a common thread in Christmas stories and this special gem is no exception.

Author Alta Halverson Seymour wrote several wonderful Christmas stories set in various lands.  Titles include A Grandma for Christmas, The Christmas Donkey, The Christmas Stove, Arne and the Christmas Star, The Top O'Christmas Morning, Erik's Christmas Camera, Kaatje and the Christmas Compass.

If you enjoy collections of Christmas stories and poetry you might like Christmas by Alice Dalgliesh or Take Joy by Tasha Tudor. 

There are so many more I could list...and I may before the seaons arrives.  If you have special ones you've savored, please share.  I'm always searching for new titles to add to our list.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

School and Reading...a Wake-Up Call

I have a list of blog posts I plan to write.  However I am continually being sent articles by folks who are saying it so much better than I can.  This article was sent by a librarian friend and is the best I've seen on reading woes for today's children.  It's a lengthy post but I encourage you to read it all...and then enjoy a book with your children.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We are here, We Are Here, WE ARE HERE!!!

I remember one of my favorite books growing up was Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a WhoHorton, the loveable elephant, is determined to save Whoville from extinction no matter what the cost to himself.  In an effort to make themselves heard, all the Whos in Whoville cry from their roof tops, "We are here, We Are Here, WE ARE HERE!!!"  The battle seems hopeless as those who only accept what they can see are determined to destroy an entire culture.

Today one of my library patrons passed an article on to me which relates the destruction of over a quarter of a million books by a Virginia library system.  I told of another library who is required to do the same thing in a previous post.  The Virginia library states budget cuts and moving toward a digital world as their reasons. 

What is so tragic about this scenerio is that there are private libraries such as mine that would have been thrilled to rescue many of these books.  I feel, as the Whos of Whoville, that I should cry from the roof tops, "We are here, We Are Here, WE ARE HERE!!!" 

What is the benefit of rescuing old books?  Can we only accept what we can see and therefore be willing to destroy the heart and soul of an entire culture?  Do we not see our need for life beyond the visible, knowledge and wisdom beyond mere facts?  Should we only depend on a digital screen to direct us in the way we should go? 

Please...stand with us in making a difference in your community.  Help us save as many of these treasures as possible before they can no longer be found.  Contact your local public libraries and see how you can become involved in book rescue missions.  Impact the culture through the printed word.

We are here...

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Book

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

~Emily Dickinson~

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Year in Review

No, it's not January but it has been a time of reflection for me.  It was this week last year that I finally stepped into the unknown world of blogging.  Since that time I've shared my vision for old books and getting them into the hands of eager young readers.  I've grieved the loss of reading in our culture and the consequences.  We have looked at the effects of electronics, not only spiritually but physiologically as relationships have become digital and our brains are being rewired.

So where do we stand?  Has anything improved over the past year? 

One of the greatest blessings of my life is sharing my collection of treasures with children in my community.  This year I am serving 34 families, my largest number ever.  That means each week dozens of children are coming into my library pouring over books, thrilled to find new friends.  I've even heard whispers of a few desiring to share their books in this way when they grow up. 

And speaking of libraries, God has opened the hearts of many more families across the country to open libraries of their own.  Libraries have been opened in various forms in many states such as Georgia, Virginia, Washington, California, Colorado and many more.  God cares about these books and the young minds they are feeding.  Perhaps He has a library planned for your community...maybe in your own home.

In the culture at large, however, things look pretty bleak.  Common Core threatens to strip any vestiges of beautiful language as they cram students' minds with utilitarian drivel.  Public libraries are discarding many of the books that are deemed treasures among my patrons.  Thankfully many of these end up in library discard sales to be snatched up by homeschool librarians.  However, I was distressed to hear from a public librarian acquaintance of mine who says her library, because of some contractual agreement, is not allowed to sell their discards.  They are required to trash them!  Google searches have replaced print on paper and the ideas written on them.  Most new books being published would have been better left as trees.

What is the answer?  Is there hope? 

As the old saying goes, just keep on keepin' on.  Support private libraries in your area.  Consider starting one of your own.  No matter how seemingly small your collection, it will tremendously bless those in your community.  If no private library is near you, educate your public librarians on the value of living books.  Check out the remaining treasures on their shelves so they will stay in circulation.  Start a book discussion club with your children's friends.  Read to your children and build collections for them.  Let them see you read for your own pleasure.  Value words and the ideas they contain.  And give God the glory as He uses children of words to be proclaimers of His Word.