What My Kids Are Reading — Fall 2020

One of the great joys of my mothering-life has been introducing my children to great literature. We’ve read it aloud together since they were young, my husband and I have modeled it quietly from the couch in our living room, and the boys have been encouraged to spend time in good books on their own.

Everyday, here in our home, they are required to read a good book and The Good Book. We believe that both have the power to actively influence the men they are becoming.

Before you shut this article down, because your kids hate reading (and you might too) let me tell you that my kids don’t always love it. But we keep at it, like any discipline purposed to make us strong.

Whether you are working out in a gym to be physically strong;

going to church and reading the Word in order to grow spiritually strong;

investing meaningful time with loved ones in an effort to become relationally strong;

or going to counseling to grow mentally and emotionally stronger…

growing muscle doesn’t usually happen accidentally. It takes works.

Even if your family isn’t a reading-family, let me invite you to read on… Consider how diving into a good piece of literature might help your family grow stronger, together.

Back in March, when the whole world went into lockdown, shut in at home, my family went abroad to England! Not literally, but literarily. We didn’t just read books that transported us through time and across continents either, we watched movie adaptaions too. It was my joy to share with my family the 2008 BBC film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ serial novel, Little Dorrit. And they loved it!

What’s more, quarantined together, we talked about all the characters who modeled for us tremendous character in their fictional lives! Our sons loved humble John and the purity of both Amy and Arthur. They despised murderous Rigaud, though were transfixed by Andy Serkis’ portrayal of the villain. We had such wonderful conversations about what those character traits (the good and the bad) look like in our own real-life narratives today.

What am I getting at? Moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas… I am passionate about choosing books that not only teach about virtue and character… but have virtuous characters modeling what it looks like. Characters in books who model character in their fictional lives help to instill character in readers’ lives! Of course, character includes the fruit of God’s Spirit, but also a spirit of adventure, along with chivalry and other antiquated virtues seemingly lost in our world today.


I believe it and I’ve seen it! I’ve seen the fruit of good stories inspiring my children for years now! I know how I’ve been influenced as well. That’s why I consider the books and their authors that I mention below as partners in the shaping of our children’s ideals and futures. But first, a poem that I wrote years ago. It testifies (I hope) to this powerful co-laboring we do, when we invite characters to inspire character in our children’s lives:

I finished it

He tumbled out of his room, wiping wet from his eye and smiled, accomplish, then sighed, “Well, I finished it.”

“Was it good?” I asked over the stove and he nodded it was so… so good, he’s sad he finished it.

Two dogs with their boy, a hatchet in hand. So like my son who longs to be a man, but we’re not finished yet.

This growing up wild and growing up free and growing up reading in the crook of a tree till we’ve finished it.

The day will come with he’s grown up and gone and the books on his shelf will sing out like a song, “Well, we finished it.”

Good books are speaking into my children’s lives — casting vision and inspiration from the inner place of their imagination! What an incredible gift that authors throughout the ages have given to us today. Let’s reach out and take their paper-hand, and accept their help. And so, without further ado, I’m excited to share what my boys have been reading here in our home, over the past few months.


1) Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austin.

After we enjoyed Dickins’ Little Dorrit, I introduced our sons to the film adaptations of many Jane Austin books. I am overjoyed to announce that all three of our boys LOVED Pride and Prejudice with a passion. For those of you who are sure to ask: While I am a fan of the 1980 BBC adaption, it was the 2005 Kiera Knightley version that captured their imaginations back in March! So much so, in fact, that our oldest son, Caleb (16), borrowed my beautifully bound collector’s edition of the story.

2) Chase The Lion, Mark Batterson

Over the past few months, Caleb didn’t only read Pride and Prejudice, he enjoyed a collection of old Louis L’Amour’s short stories, and just started Chase Chase The Lion by Mark Batterson today. I love the subtitle of Chase the Lion: If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small. Since this man-sized son of mine is going to be launching from our home out into his own life in a couple of short years, that subtitle seemed perfect! We want him to have God-sized dreams to pursue. Dreams that are “destined to fail without divine intervention.


Within the early pages of Chase The Lion, pastor and author, Mark Batterson, shared this Manifesto:

I’m not just thankful for the authors of fictional books who continue to capture our children’s imaginations with made-up narratives of good vs. evil, I’m grateful for the men and women who lift a pen to speak truth clear and plain to their intellects as well. That’s why I’m introducing my children to good (and Godly) non-fiction while they are still young.

3) This Changes Everything, Jacquelle Crowe

As Caleb reads Chase the Lion, his younger brothers are reading, This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years by Jacquelle Crowe. I cannot recommend this book enough for 12-16 year old young men and women.

4) The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

Speaking of the other two, Brody (14) binge-read the entire Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins in the first ten days of quarantine. He also watched the movies, but then had to read the series over a second time because he wanted the books to be the last thing remembered. During the early days of lock-down, when schools were scrambling to help our children learn, this was how Brody was spending his days.

5) The Lord of the Flies, William Golding

Yesterday, Brody finished The Lord of the Flies by William Golding. This story disturbed him more than The Hunger Games had and I’m going to have him write an essay about why that is. I want him to be able to analyze and then communicate what it was that troubled him most about LOTF. While he says that he didn’t actually like it, he can’t stop thinking about it.

Both Caleb and Brody have enjoyed dystopian style books over the years. During this pandemic, however, they’ve felt eerily close to home! Here’s a funny quote we had a good laugh over.


6) Theodore Boone, John Grisham

7) The Hardy Boys, Franklin W. Dixon

8) Every book published by Lamplighter Publishers

Our youngest son, Asher (12), has been our biggest reader of all in recently months. He gobbled up the first six of John Grisham’s Theodore Boone books. Powered through dozens of old Hardy Boys mysteries, and then topped it off by reading every single beautifully bound book I’ve bought from Lamplighter Publishers over the years.


While you can find some of these antiquated titles on Amazon, to find them all and learn more about these character-focused stories that were written mostly during the 1800’s (and published again only recently), head on over to Lamplighter.net.

9) Refugee, Alan Gratz

Most recently, Asher started reading Refugee by Alan Gratz. He’s only three chapters in and has already cried. He said it’s scary and sad and already so good. All three of the boys will read this book this fall! I encourage you to consider this one as a read-aloud for the whole family!

10) The Entitlement Trap, Linda and Richard Erye

This final book recommendation is going to seem strange to you at first, but I give it my heartiest recommendation of all! The Entitlement Trap by Linda and Richard Eyre is exceptional! Though it is a parenting book for moms and dads to read, we are reading it aloud as a family. The boys have nodded their heads along with us from the very first page and we are making active choices as a family to change some of the entitlement inducing habits that we’ve all been in. This book has the power to both wound (as in convict) and heal (as in transform) every single family raising children today!


If your children are simply not interested in reading, here is something we started when our kids were young — and we keep it up today when our children go through seasons when they lack interest in books today.

When Caleb was very young I made a deal with him — “You choose a book and then I choose a book, then you choose the next one and I’ll choose the one after that…” He’d chose Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and I chose Where the Red Fern Grows. He chose Captain Underpants, then I handed him an early reader adaptation of Little Men. He actually read the Classic Starts version of many classic stories, and I can’t recommend this book series enough! Before we knew it, Caleb was choosing all the books that I would choose for him. My Side of The Mountain by Jean Craighead George; White Fang by Jack London; and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Before we knew it, Caleb stopped asking for the silly, fluffy, Captain Underpants type of books any more.

Persevere moms and dads. Don’t give up because your children don’t want to read good books. Don’t give up when they huff and puff and roll their eyes when you pull out The Good Book either. Persevere in leading them to books that will lead to virtuous character and deep conversations about good and evil. You won’t regret it!

Love from our library to yours,