12 Board Books We Still Love


Around age 6 months, my oldest daughter started chewing on her board books. And ever since then, words have been as much a part of her diet as bread and water.

I suppose that following a word-lover’s diet is what makes it hard for us to part with any books around here, even those chunky little board books with chewed up edges that my 9-year-old and 12 year-old obviously outgrew ages ago. Or did they? Does anyone truly ever outgrow a good little story?

Part of what makes some of those first board books so special is that they were how we first started sharing truths about God with our children. Stories about God’s love and His faithfulness, stories about Jesus, stories from the Old Testament — these were all first shared in board book format.

We still keep some of these special board books around for little friends to enjoy when they visit us. And so here’s a dozen of our favorite, faith-based board books — just perfect for the little one with chubby little hands who likes to help you turn the pages as you read together. Or for any one else, of any age, who still likes to hear a good little story full of truth.


God Lives in My House by Melody Carlson


God Goes with Me by Melody Carlson


God Made Them All by Melody Carlson


I Can Count on God by Melody Carlson


Jesus Loves Me by Debby Anderson


Baby’s First Book of Psalms by Steven Elkins


Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado


Lift-the-Flap Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones


Lift-the-Flap Bible Adventures by Allia Zobel Nolan


The Story of Easter by Patricia A. Pingry


The Story of Jesus by Patricia A. Pingry


The Story of the Ten Commandments by Patricia A. Pingry

Happy reading!

Books We Love: 30 Great Books for Family Devotions


The season for Christmas shopping is upon us! Finding a worthwhile gift that will delight the whole family and help everyone grow deeper in the faith isn’t as hard as it may seem. Here’s a list of some of our favorite books to enjoy together as family devotions.


Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes by Dave and Neta Jackson

Hero Tales Volume I

Hero Tales Volume II

Hero Tales Volume III

Hero Tales Volume IV

This is a very comprehensive treasury of stories about the inspiring lives of faithful men and women; some are missionaries, and some are pivotal in church history. Each book covers 15 heroes, and for each hero the books include three stories highlighting specific character qualities and corresponding Bible verses. These are fabulous books for family devotions.


The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The story of Jesus is woven carefully throughout this uniquely illustrated children’s Bible. I love that the captivating illustrations for some of the stories are spread out vertically and others horizontally — it keeps story time exciting. This Bible makes a fantastic baby gift. It is available in other languages, as an audiobook and on DVD, too.


Mighty Acts of God: A Family Bible Story Book by Starr Meade

This book includes 90 illustrated Bible stories highlighting the mighty acts of God. I love the illustrations, and the length of the stories is just right for bedtime.


Wondrous Works of God: A Family Bible Story Book by Starr Meade

This book includes another 90 illustrated Bible stories highlighting the wondrous works of God and His character. Again, Tim O’Connor’s illustrations are wonderful.


God’s Names by Sally Michael

This book features 26 devotionals exploring the many names of God. It is very similar to the content of the Children Desiring God Sunday School curriculum, which was produced by the same author. 


God’s Promise by Sally Michael

This book features 26 devotionals about God’s promises. Likewise, the content is similar to the Children Desiring God Sunday School curriculum.


God’s Providence by Sally Michael

This book features 26 devotionals about God’s providence.


God’s Wisdom: Making Him Known by Sally Michael

This book features 26 devotionals about God’s wisdom.


Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones

This beautifully illustrated book is filled with 101 individual truths to ponder. These are excellent for busy nights when you only have 5 minutes for devotions.


God’s Mighty Acts in Salvation by Starr Meade

Based mostly on the book of Galatians, this study includes 40 devotions about God’s plan of salvation.


God’s Mighty Acts in Creation by Starr Meade

  Based on the six days of creation, this book includes 45 devotions.


Leading Little Ones to God by Marian M. Schoolland

This book includes 86 devotionals, which include a lesson, some questions to discuss, a suggested Bible passage and a brief hymn to sing.


Building on the Rock series by Joel Beeke and Diana Kleyn

 How God Used a Snowdrift

How God Used a Drought and an Umbrella

How God Sent a Dog to Save a Family

How God Used a Thunderstorm

How God Stopped the Pirates

These books feature inspiring stories of God’s wonderful works and are great for either family devotions or personal devotions for your independent readers.


Hymns for a Kid’s Heart series by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada

Hymns for a Kid’s Heart Volume 1

Hymns for a Kid’s Heart Volume 2

Christmas Carols for a Kid’s Heart Volume 3

Passion Hymns for a Kid’s Heart Volume 4

This set is truly a treasure. Each book comes with a full-length music CD, which is produced quite well and features very pleasant children’s voices. For each hymn they include about five to six pages. Two pages focus on the hymn story, usually about the life of the hymn’s author. There’s also a one-page devotion, one sheet of music, words of all the verses, a corresponding Scripture, and a prayer. In the back of each book is a glossary of words that may be unfamiliar for children, like “bulwark” and “wretch.” The books also include beautiful illustrations. Sadly, they are no longer in print, but used copies are available.


Miller Family Storybooks (Set of 6)

Storytime with the Millers

Wisdom and the Millers – Proverbs for Children

Prudence and the Millers

School Days with the Millers

Missionary Stories with the Millers

Growing with the Millers

These books are about the Millers, a family full of sweet characters. They offer great lessons and biblical truths, and it is easy for readers to learn from the mistakes of others in these valuable, albeit old-fashioned, stories with simple illustrations.

That’s all for the list of family devotional books. Up next is a list of a dozen favorite board books — just perfect for the little one with chubby little hands who likes to help you turn the pages as read together.

Happy reading!





Books We Love: Inspiring Fiction for Kids


The snow is already falling here, so it does look and feel quite like Christmas despite what the calendar says. This kind of weather makes my kids dash outside to romp in the snow and then dash back inside to warm up with hot cocoa and a captivating book. If they are snuggling under a cozy blanket or sitting near the fireplace while they read, that’s even better! We read countless books around here. And since books make such fantastic gifts, please allow me the joy of sharing some of our family’s favorites book series and individual titles over the next few weeks. Maybe you’ll find a gift idea for a dear little person in your life. Let’s begin with some inspiring and heart-warming fiction for kids.


Adventures in the Kingdom series by Dian Layton

  • Seeker’s Great Adventure
  • Secret of the Blue Pouch
  • Rescued from the Dragon
  • Armor of Light
  • The Dreamer
  • In Search of Wanderer

These books are much loved by my 9-year-old daughter, who keeps re-reading the series. With an invisible kingdom, a king, a castle and such, they are very similar in theme to the classic Pilgrim’s Progress, but these are tailored to a younger audience. The illustrations are cute.


Adventures in Odyssey: Imagination Station series of 16 books by Marianne Hering Similar to the radio theatre productions by the same name, this series is an excellent introduction to many notable people and events in history. My 9-year-old adores them.


The Cul-de-sac Kids series (Volumes 1-24) by Beverly Lewis This is a fun chapter book series for young readers that, as the title suggests, features a group of neighborhood friends and their many adventures.


Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen Taylor This adaptation of John Bunyan’s classic is a great read-aloud for families. The lessons are memorable and life-changing.


The Freedom Seekers series by Lois Walfrid Johnson My 11-year-old inhaled this six-book series set in 1857. It features courageous characters interacting with steamboats, immigrants and the Underground Railroad.


Adventures in the Northwoods 10-book series by Lois Walfrid Johnson My 11-year-old found this series quite compelling and especially enjoyed reading about challenges of daily life in the 1900s in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

elsie Elsie Dinsmore series by Martha Finley Often misunderstood, Elsie struggles to live out her faith while living in her grandfather’s home. These books cover much of Elsie’s life. Our family has enjoyed the first three books.


Anne of Green Gables 8-book series by L.M. Montgomery These classic novels follow the lively and lovable redhead Anne Shirley and her many adventures upon coming to Green Gables. I adored these as a high school student, and my 11 year old is already reading them for a second time.


Heidi by Johanna Spyri I love the classic, unabridged edition of this book, especially the version that comes with beautiful illustrations by Jessie Wilcox 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.


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.


In Grandma’s Attic series (3 books) by Arleta Richardson My daughters love reading and re-reading these charming tales about a grandmother who was a little girl in another time and place. They include memorable and timeless lessons of life and faith.


Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John

The Tanglewoods’ Secret by Patricia St. John

Rainbow Garden by Patricia St. John

Star of Light by Patricia St. John

These are great stories of faith written by a missionary and nurse. My oldest loves them.


A Life of Faith: Kathleen McKenzie series by Tracy Leininger Craven

Kathleen’s Shaken Dreams

Kathleen’s Unforgettable Winter

Kathleen’s Abiding Hope

Kathleen’s Enduring Faith

This series is about the faith of a young girl growing up during the Great Depression. Both of my daughters have enjoyed them.

That wraps up the list for this week. Up next is a list of great books to use in family devotions. Until then, happy reading!

Rain Boots and Books for Summer


Remember that rain song in the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh? You know the one during which Piglet’s house floods and he gets swept away?

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down

in rushing, rising rivulets,

Till the river crept out of its bed

and crept right into Piglet’s.

That’s our theme song this spring. Forget the sandals and shorts. Our wardrobe has shifted from winter coats and snow boots to rain jackets and rain boots.


The flowers love the showers, and my little girls sure love the puddles. Somehow rain boots make you brave in a splashy sort of way.


A big sister’s steady hand also helps encourage a daring little adventurer across the rocks. I won’t mention who got wet this time.



The last day of school is Friday, and that will wrap up our sixth year of homeschooling! I love getting to share the many adventures of daily life with these two precious girls, and we are all in a hurry to shift into a slower speed for the next few months.


Bring on summer! I am looking forward to spending more time outdoors, especially on the lake, and I am also looking forward to relaxing with some great children’s books. If all this rain keeps up, we will have plenty of time for snuggling up on the couch with our books.


Here’s what’s on our homeschool list for summer read-alouds:

  • Hitty – Her First 100 Years by Rachel Field: We already started this chapter book about a delightful wooden doll who writes about her own exciting adventures. I am surprised already by the non-stop action in this story, which was the winner of the 1929 Newbery Medal.
  • The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars: As a devoted fan of E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan and a huge fan of Trumpeter swans themselves, I am eager to read this compelling story that received the Newbery Medal in 1970, although I haven’t yet figured out how swans figure into this tale about a 14-year-old girl and a younger brother who is missing.
  • Old Yeller by Fred Gipson: Maybe you watched the movie in elementary school, too? I don’t remember if I ever read the book, but I do remember this story about a boy and his dog is a tear-jerker. I tend to confuse it with Wilson Rawl’s Where the Red Fern Grows, so I hope reading Old Yeller will help me distinguish the two. Published in 1956, Old Yeller is a Newbery Honor Book.
  • Abel’s Island by William Steig: This is another Newbery Honor Book, and it tells the story of a mouse who is swept away from his wife in a rainstorm and must learn to survive alone in the wild. Steig is also the author of Brave Irene, a fantastic picture book about a girl fighting a snowstorm.
  • The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson: This story is about an old hobo and the friendship and adventures he shares with a group of children. Published in 1958, it is also a Newbery Honor Book with delightful pictures by Garth Williams, illustrator of the Little House series and many, many other classics in children’s literature.


Of course, if the weather turns out really lovely this summer, a few of these books might get bumped to fall. Flexibility is this homeschool mom’s favorite tool.

What’s on your reading list this summer?

3 Marvelous Books about Maple Sugaring


With all the maple sugaring excitement around here the last few weeks, I just have to share our favorite books on that sweet subject.

miraclesonmaplehill2014The first is Virginia Sorensen’s 1957 Newbery Award winner: Miracles on Maple Hill. This a charming story about a young girl named Marley and her family’s adventures as they stay at a country home on Maple Hill in Pennsylvania. As it begins, Marley’s father has recently returned from war and is not at all himself. The heartwarming story abounds with characters who seem so genuine. The themes of healing and spring and miracles all intertwine beautifully and are reminiscent of The Secret Garden. This is a fantastic read for middle to upper elementary students, especially as a family read-aloud.

sugarbushspring2014Sugarbush Spring by Marsha Wilson Chall is a gorgeous picture book with a captivating story of the entire sugaring process — from tapping the trees to sealing up the full jars of syrup. Did I mention the illustrations by Jim Daly are absolutely gorgeous? I just wanted to climb right into the pictures and help with all the work, too. This is a perfect read-aloud for all ages.

sugarsnowSugar Snow (one of the “My First Little House Books” series) is a wonderfully illustrated picture book using the text adapted from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods. As a rule, I’m completely opposed to adaptations of classics, but this series is a rare exception. Illustrator Doris Ettlinger beautifully captures the excitement of maple sugaring in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. I’ve been to the replica of the Ingalls’ cabin at the actual home site near Pepin, Wisconsin, and I must note that Ettlinger portrays that very accurately. All ages will enjoy the simple yet delightful book — and the whole series for that matter.

Happy reading!











More Favorites from the Bookworms

While I love reading aloud, my two girls do far more reading without me these days. Sometimes the girls get so engrossed in their books, I have to surgically remove their noses from the pages in order to get help with laundry or dinner!

summerEnd 129p

So what books are so incredibly riveting to my 7- and 10-year-old bookworms? Well, my youngest likes to read and re-read series of books, such as the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series by Betty MacDonald, the Imagination Station series from Focus on the Family, the Adventures in the Kingdom series by Dian Layton, The Cul-De-Sac Kids series by Beverly Lewis, and nearly anything by Beverly Cleary. She recently finished Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse by Ursula Moray Williams, and together we are reading The Racketty-Packetty House by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I also should note that she loved The Wonderful Wizard of Oz so much she insisted we read it together as a family this summer, even though I have a terrible fear of winged monkeys. We finished the book a few weeks ago, and thankfully my life is almost entirely free of those frightful creatures!


Lately my oldest is adoring the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery and The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. The Borrowers series by Mary Norton, In Grandma’s Attic series by Arleta Richardson, and children’s fantasy books by Edith Nesbit are also among her recent favorites. In addition to reading fiction, reading biographies on various missionaries and famous Americans is another of her favorite genres.

Happy reading!

12+ Books We Love


“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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.peonies046
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.januaryFUN009X
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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!

Hymns for the Next Generation

In our home library we have a lovely set of books that we use off and on for teaching hymns during our family devotions. The “Hymns for a Kid’s Heart” series by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada is truly a treasure.

Each book comes with a full-length music CD, which is produced quite well and features very pleasant children’s voices. For each hymn they include about five to six pages. Two pages focus on the hymn story, usually about the life of the hymn’s author. There’s also a one-page devotion, one sheet of music, words of all the verses, a corresponding scripture, and a prayer. In the back of each book is a glossary of words that may be unfamiliar for children, like “bulwark” and “wretch.” The books also include beautiful illustrations in color.

This four-volume series would be excellent to incorporate into your homeschool curriculum or as a regular part of your church’s Sunday School program. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all children could belt out a few classic hymns?

With Easter just a few weeks away, Passion Hymns for a Kid’s Heart would be a fantastic book to start your own collection of this series. It features stories to help kids understand more about God’s character and the meaning of the Cross.

Happy reading and singing!

Egg Cups & Oil Wells

My beautiful grandma is turning 92 this month. She lives in Washington State now, and it’s been almost two years since we were together. We last rendezvoused in Portland to celebrate her 90th birthday. We miss you, Gramma!

With knitting projects and crossword puzzle books never far from her reach, Gramma may appear to be your average grandmother. But really, she’s far above and beyond average.

Gramma’s mom didn’t teach her to cook as a little girl, but she learned anyhow. Her most famous dishes are chicken and dumplings and roast beef with homemade egg noodles. She’s a baker, too. Cherry chocolate cake and lemon meringue pie are two of her specialties. And Gramma is quite an accomplished seamstress; she made all fashions of fancy dresses for my mother’s piano recitals and proms. She even made my mother’s wedding dress!

Though she’s a voracious reader, storytelling is probably Gramma’s finest talent. As her oldest granddaughter, I’ve often delighted in hearing her lively stories — some are tales about days gone by and some are tales that unfolded just yesterday. My favorites, though, are the colorful ones about my mother as a little girl and Gramma as a little girl. Those stories help me understand who I am and how my family came to be.

Today I am incredibly thrilled and thankful that Gramma teamed up with my dear and talented Aunt Marla to write a book! I had the great honor of reading its 322 pages while wearing my copyeditor hat. And now you can read it, too!

Egg Cups & Oil Wells: My Oklahoma Life is available for purchase through Amazon.com. Here’s the official description:

In Egg Cups & Oil Wells, a mother and daughter weave a small and personal story into the wide tapestry of rural women’s lives in the Twentieth Century. Euna Hiersche Martin’s warmly funny tales about life in Oklahoma begin only thirteen years after statehood on a ranch her father is about to lose to a crooked banker. She recreates a world where families are still quarantined with smallpox, hobos eat on the back porch, smart girls head to the city to master the squiggles of shorthand, ration stamps bewilder new brides, and tonight’s chicken dinner struts in the yard. Now in her nineties, Euna brings a wry but wise perspective to her seventy years in the Sooner State. Understanding that her mother’s “gumption and persistence” reflect an entire generation’s legacy, Marla Martin Hanley adds background rarely found in personal memoirs. Her chapters connect Euna’s stories to their historical context: Oklahoma’s settlement, the Great Depression, the World War II home front, and the women’s movement that dramatically changed the corporate office. Together, the mother-daughter team have created a rich and engaging blend of personal and social history.

Someday I might share my favorite part of the book — a love letter my grandpa wrote while Gramma was in the hospital after delivering their firstborn. But for now, go buy the book! Or buy two and enjoy the free shipping. It’s a treasure.

Happy reading!

5 Star Links for Friday

Woo-hoo! Today is a 5-star Friday! Time for me to share  links to great online reading, words that are edifying and share some true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy ideas.

1. Adeye at No Greater Joy Mom offers these “Good Words.” She’s right; words are powerful, as I concur in my own post: “Words I Can’t Edit.”

2. Kevin Deyoung’s “Parenting 001” really cracked me up. It’s so true-to-life, and be sure to stick with it to the last paragraph, which explains his noble aim in parenting.

3. Over at Heart of the Matter, Cindy West’s “Why Study Nature?” provides biblical reasons for studying God’s creation. Her intended audience is homeschoolers, but I think it applies to any parent at home with kids this summer.

4. Speaking of summer, it’s crunch time for making summer plans! In the first part of two, “Summer Goals for Family Fun and Growth” over at Mentoring Moments for Christian Women is an excellent resource when evaluating what to do and what not to do. I am eager to read the second part whenever it goes live!

5.  Another very admirable article on summer — and heaven — and how Christians should view both is “Summer Mindset” by John Piper. I adore this lovely quote: “That’s what summer is: God’s messenger with a sun-soaked, tree-green, flower-blooming, lake-glistening letter of love to show us what he is planning for us in the age to come—’things which the eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, God has prepared for those who love him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9). Don’t fall in love with the video preview, and find yourself unable to love the coming reality.”

I pray that these words encourage and edify you as much as they did me. Enjoy the weekend and your summer, too!