“Being a bookworm means having non-fictional feelings for fictional characters.”
That’s a quote I saw on Grammarly.com last week. And so true, so true it is. Over the last few years, my two bookworm daughters and I have fallen in love with some dear friends in the pages of chapter books, especially those that we read aloud together. And what’s more thrilling than meeting new friends in books, reading about their adventures and watching them grow? Why, sharing those new fictional friends with our real-life, non-fiction friends, that’s what!
Here’s the scoop on some of our favorite children’s fiction books with characters we’re sure you’ll adore, too.
- Five Children and It by E. Nesbit: In this children’s fantasy book, we learned from the mistakes of the five children who have their biggest wishes granted by a sand fairy. Nothing goes as expected with the wishes, and we all learn solid lessons in contentment.
- The Railway Children by E. Nesbit: Bobbie, the leading female character in this classic story, faces adversity with great perseverance and is an admirable role model. Both her strengths and weaknesses show as she interacts with her siblings and her mother and grows in character. Bobbie respects and honors her mother, even when her mother is not forthcoming about the father’s sudden disappearance.
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: In this classic, several characters, especially Mary, transform and grow right along with the flowers in the secret garden they discover. Dicken is so charming and almost magical, and the robin in the garden has quite a lovable personality, too.
- Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen Taylor: I usually dislike adaptations of classics, but Helen Taylor’s simplified version of John Bunyan’s book is the exception. The tale of Christian’s journey is an excellent allegory with memorable lessons in following the straight and narrow path, through life’s trials and temptations, all the way to heaven.
- All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor: The Jewish sisters in this book are thoughtful and face difficulties with much love and concern for each other. My oldest continued reading the rest of the books in this series, which includes a lot of insight about Jewish customs and celebrating Jewish holidays.
- The Saturdays, The Four Story Mistake, Then There Were Five and Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright: This series, also known as the Melendy Quartet, features four lovably genuine siblings who take turns having adventures and enduring trials. They nearly always treat each other with love and care, despite their vastly different personalities and interests.
- Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace: The first four books in this series are just perfect for girls 11 and under. The enduring friendship between neighbors Betsy and Tacy is quite endearing, and their playtime adventures are wholesome, believable and often comical. The books offer a peek into what daily family life was like in the early 1900s.
- Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright: What an enchanting adventure this trio of young cousins share when they discover an elderly couple living in the most fascinating place near the water.
- Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter: Oh! How Pollyanna spreads contentment and cheer through her glad game! This book is simply delightful and teaches us about being thankful for God’s goodness and grace.
- Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls: Set in rural northeastern Oklahoma, this book takes me back to my roots. Even if you didn’t grow up there, you’re sure to develop a colorful Oklahoma accent reading this downright hilarious tale about a boy, his grandpa, his twin sister who walks with a limp, and a rowdy bunch of circus monkeys.
- Elsie Dinsmore series by Martha Finley: Young Elsie is misunderstood and often mistreated by her tutor and many others in her grandfather’s home. She often struggles with obeying her father until he becomes a Christian and realizes how dear his precious Elsie is. This series spans many years of Elsie’s life; our family has enjoyed the first three books.
- Heidi by Johanna Spyri: I love the classic edition of this book that comes with beautiful illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith. Lovable Heidi and her misunderstood grandfather both grow in character and spirit through their relationships with each other and with Peter, Clara, and even the goats. Set in the lovely Swiss Alps, this story is long but timeless and worth reading every page. All three of us cried when we finished because Heidi had become so very dear to our hearts.
Up next for our family read alouds this school year are:
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
- Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
- Almost Home: The Story of the Mayflower’s Mary Chilton by Wendy Lawton
- Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert O’Brien
- Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
- The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
- A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
What fictional characters do you have non-fictional feelings for? And what books are you reading with your kids this year? Do tell!