Yet another We Recommend. If you would like a book recommended, just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the child's name, background, books liked, anything else in the world you can tell us, and we will try to come up with something!
When I got an email asking if I had any book suggestions for chapter books that addressed Christian themes, I was taken aback. I'm Jewish. I have a deep-seated, if not entirely accurate sense that most books are Christian themed by default in our culture. But trying to think about it further, when I read the request more carefully, I realized I didn't have an easy answer for this writer. Here's what she said:
My daughter is almost eight and a big reader. Mysteries are her
favorite, but she also likes Ramona, Judy Moody and American Girl
books. I was wondering if you had recommendations for chapter books
with Christian themes? Not as the main focus of the book necessarily,
but characters who pray and go to church and maybe face some issues of
right and wrong. My daughter has First Communion coming up this year,
and I would like to find some literary characters (preferably a series)
that have some kind of faith life. Thanks!!!
So I thought and I thought. It's one thing be the default framework of a culture; it's another to be true to it, particularly in its full meaning. Communication with God. Churches. Praying. Moral guidance. I normally shy away from books I see as explicitly giving a message, but it didn't have to be that, did it? So I did what I do when I am deeply confused. I went to my eight-year-old and explained the situation.
"I know," Chestnut said with a certain affecting earnest seriousness that just kills me. "The Courage of Sarah Noble."
This book is a little bit complicated in a few ways: there is the handling of "Indians!" and their strange ways, and the issues of colonialism and proselytizing. But that is, of course, part of our history here in the U.S., so it makes sense to talk about it. Chestnut referred me to "the part where she's alone in the woods, and the Indians come surround her, and she is so scared and she doesn't know what to do, so she thinks about God and what she read in the bible the night before, and it helps her know how to act."
This was a challenging request for me, but we tried to handle it as thoughtfully and respectfully as we could. Maybe the rest of you have excellent ideas?