Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ten Years of Living Books

It has been ten years since Emily and I opened the front door of our home to let 11 families in to borrow books. The families have multiplied, and the books have multiplied, and we have moved from that home to three other locations with its growth.

But the work goes on. Week after week, year after year, children are coming and the books are coming and going. It is a common human tendency to become accustomed to the ordinary way of life once the newness has worn off and to not take much notice of the wonders that happen every day. New always seems more fascinating than faithful, every day work.

This is not to say that Emily and I do not still thrill at some of the interactions and happenings here in this library, but the outreach of this library has expanded so much that it is easy to be preoccupied and miss the significance of how books are opening eyes and hearts of children right here in our hometown.

Last week on library day, we had a crowd descend as soon as the door was open and were hustling and bustling to unpack returning books and help moms and children find more. Later, it got a bit quieter. A single dad and his two little girls came to visit and I happened to be sitting down taking a break. This gave the five-year-old opportunity to animatedly tell me of the trauma at their house before they came. It seems that her three-year-old little sister was heartbroken. She couldn’t believe the month was up and she was going to have to part with the new favorite book of her life Journey Cake, Ho. “She just loves it and Papa has to read it every day, lots of times.” Emily sent her home with several other rhyming and fun stories. Little Sister has fallen in love with one story, but is going to find that the world holds many favorites for children like her, and our supply will continue to increase her attachment to stories.

Then, at the very end of the day, a mom and her 11-year-old daughter came in. It seems they were having a conversation on the drive here. They are quite a reading family, but the daughter is in a bit of a slump with books. Mom was probing to discover what kind of book would meet her need. “I like books that make me cry,” she confided. We smiled. It just so happens we have hundreds of books that will fill that bill. But was it strange that this same girl also told us she loved books that make her laugh?

Charlotte Mason said education is about knowledge touched with emotion. When our hearts get involved with a story, we don’t forget the lessons. Our attachment is automatic. It’s how God made us.

That is the reason we continue this work. These 18 thousand books for the children of nearly 50 families are sowing seeds of knowledge to grow on. When we opened our library, we could not think of a clever name and were a bit chagrined to call it by such a plain and general name.

Upon reflection, it strikes me that Living Books Library is absolutely the perfect name for what goes on here.

For the joy of reading,


Monday, October 3, 2016

Book Sale Update

We have updated our sale pages with new offerings.

Please use the link to our online order form (found at the top of each category page) to copy and paste the book titles and descriptions that you wish to purchase.

Thanks for looking!

Reading into Fall

As the year gently passed from summer to fall, I traveled through the turn of the season with many diverse novels, adult and children’s, that each kept me company in this swiftly passing September.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.
I was told to read this book immediately, that I absolutely HAD to read this book (have you had this experience?), but it, nevertheless, waited three months for me to get to it. Having several foster children and adopted children in my immediate family, knowing some of the battles they have faced to gain love and family, I did drag my feet, unwilling to have a rose-dusted story painted for me. Told from the perspective of the unwanted child’s point of view, alternately with that same girl tackling the world alone as a young adult, I found it to be as various in mood and temper as there are flowers in the world. It was beautiful and painful, frightening and funny. Overall, I thought it was heart-warming and hopeful. The flowers were her lifeline and friends. Worth reading.

Stranger from the Sea by Graham Winston.
This next in the Poldark series jumped ten years ahead of the last sequential novels, to the tumultuous time of Napoleon’s threat to England and children now grown up and facing the same dilemmas and uncertainties of their parents’ generation. It left me hanging so that I surely will read the next one soon.

Freddy Goes Camping by Walter Brooks.
When I was a child—I’m really giving my age away here—a favorite television show was Mr. Ed. The Freddy series is written by the man who wrote that show. Somehow this silly story was just the ticket to lighten my heart. See last week’s blog for more.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.
This classic World War I novel brought the life of this German soldier uncomfortably to the present and sheds light on some of the reasons the world so drastically and irrevocably changed in the ensuing generations. It was tough to read, but powerful and poignantly full of truth about war, men, and the meaning of life.

Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall.
Having read Tuchman’s In Praise of Folly and Howarth’s Nelson this past year, I felt right at home with this young seaman’s first and most dramatic sea voyage, which culminated in his being swept into a mutiny, shipwrecked, and the ensuing tale of his eventual capture and court martial. It is the first in a trilogy and I may go on to read the others in the coming year. It is always fascinating to get into the world of 200 years ago, a world so different from ours, but so familiar inside the minds and motives of the men who lived in it.

Laddie: A True Blue Story by Gene Stratton Porter.
This again is another classic novel I have never read. I think it is now one of my favorite Stratton Porter novels. Told by the youngest daughter in a family of 12 children, it is full of beauty, family unity, and strong Christian morality that works in the lives of the heroes as well as the villains. The happy-ever-after ending is more satisfying because it is a hard-won happiness.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo.
Good and faithful Bonnie sent this in recorded segments, unsolicited by me, and I’m glad she did. I doubt I would have picked this up to read myself, but its message is unique in YA fiction today, full of pain, questions, and loss, but not hopeless. I’m still evaluating it, not wanting to judge it as unsatisfactory just yet.

Sir Gibbie by George MacDonald.
I began this book and quit 20 years ago. Knowing MacDonald’s influence on Lewis keeps me coming back to his stories and this one was rich. This story, like the one just mentioned, is full of darkness, pain, betrayal, human frailty, but is written in a rich tapestry of words, scenes, and characters. It is the day in the night and day comparison of these two children’s stories. Sir Gibbe, however, just as far-fetched and fantastical as Raymie Nightingale, promises years of meditation on its lessons for my life, while the previous book will fade to obscurity before the year is out.

Rising from the Plains by John McPhee.
This is the only nonfiction book I finished this month. I’ve mentioned before that I’m trying to familiarize myself with the world of geology because my son-in-law is passionate about the subject and I am woefully ignorant of it. This was probably my favorite in this series, the story of David Love, famous Wyoming geologist, telling not only about the land under his feet, but the history of the men and events that have shaped his life.

For the joy of reading,