As I understand it, The Door in the Wall is one of those “love it or hate it” sort of things. I remember having to read this book as a young person, and at the time, I wasn’t completely sold on it. However, my education didn’t exactly provide me with a good grasp on History, which I feel is helpful to have when approaching this story. As an adult, I devoured this lovely read.
Set in the Middle Ages, this tale follows Robin, a noble’s young son who has lost use of his legs while his parents are away. The servants have succumb to the plague, and Robin is alone until he is taken in by a loving monk.
The Door in the Wall is very much about Robin’s personal triumphs as he learns to find the openings to pass through the difficult walls that life has erected in his path. It’s also useful for learning historical “lingo”, although some complain that the author presents a somewhat “romanticized” version of this time period.
This is recommended for grades 4-8 and while this group should be well able to handle the reading level and events, I’d say it would be more appreciated the the upper age limit and beyond–armed with a dictionary for a few of the older words.
It would be hard to imagine a library that doesn’t carry Marguerite De Angeli’s timeless tale, but just in case yours doesn’t, you can find it here.
What the World Eats is a wake up call paired with a social studies lesson. While I usually cover a work of fiction, I feel that this is a book that every child should read at some point (or at least check out the photos).
Basically, families all over the world have been photographed with all of the food they would eat in a typical week. Many of the photos are very sobering, as you are forced to look at the poverty that is a reality for so many every day. Overall it’s very interesting to see what people eat and how many of those foods are like ours. On the pages facing the photos, you’ll find a list of the foods, and other facts such as the cost of the groceries, and information about the country.
If your library doesn’t carry this, you can also buy (or preview) it here.
Robot Wars, by Sigmund Brouwer, is for the high-tech, space-age, future-loving young person. Set in the future, 14-year old Tyce lives in an experimental colony on Mars. This series has almost everything you can think of: futuristic gadgets including a robot army, strange experimental animals, space-age flying dog-fights, conspiracy theories revolving around the government agencies back on Earth, bad guys, and scenarios that cause one to consider faith and family.
It would take me a coon’s age (something I learned in Kentucky!) to tell you about every book, so you should head on over to Amazon to read the story lines and reviews. **Please note: this series was originally published as The Mars Diaries, a 10 book series. Now as Robot Wars, there are 5 books with 2 stories in each.
I want to add a disclaimer here. There is some material that is pretty heavy in this series, after you get past the first book. However, in my view, and considering what I see out there in the “teen” section at the libraries, it may be considered very mild to some. The author is obviously a Christian, and he handled things very well while still adding elements of danger and science fiction. Yet, as always I recommend that you look through these books first.
The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth Speare, is another book we included in our history studies. It follows a young zealot, Daniel, living at the time of Christ. After his father was crucified by the Romans, Daniel lived in the mountains with a band of Zealots until some young people from town discover him one day. He is eventually compelled to rejoin his community and care for what’s left of his family. While this book is not religious, it uses the commandment to love to challenge the hate that’s in Daniel’s heart for the Romans. It also highlights the conflict that must have been in the minds of many Jewish people of Daniel’s time: how could this man, Jesus, who teaches love possibly be the savior they hoped for? Find The Bronze Bow here.
“Dog and man can fit together like no others do. Lewis and I had that fit….
How did we get that close? I think the wilderness had something to do with it. Lewis and I would have been close anywhere, but the wilderness brought out the best in both of us. We were made for that territory.”
Meriwether Lewis’s Newfoundland, Seaman, gives his account of this famous expedition starting with his first introduction to Lewis. History and animal lovers alike will enjoy this book.
Find Lewis and Clark and Me, by Laurie Myers, here.
God King was a book we came across when studying ancient history. Set in the time of King Hezekiah, the story brings to us in detail the life of a prince, Taharka, from Kush. Although it’s historical fiction, and should be read as such, Taharka (AKA Taharqa & Tirhakah) is mentioned in many early recordings including the Bible (Isaiah 37:8-9, & 2 Kings 19:8-9). God King brought us greater understanding of the brutal Assyrians as they went through the area wiping out entire nations. It also shed a lot of light on King Hezekiah and we marveled as we read about the aqueduct system he made which enabled his people to survive the Assyrian onslaught. This book really “fleshed out” not only general history, but this Biblical story, and was a really enjoyable read.
Find it here.
Mama’s Bank Account is one book that’s dear to my heart. It’s an account of a young girl living with her Norwegian family in San Francisco, and most of the stories center around her Mama. My mother read it to me when I was a little girl, and then I poured over the pages again with my little family a few years ago.
While I have to admit that this story has a bit of a female bent, my guys liked it really well–laughed on cue, and looked introspective at all the right parts.
This is an older story, but I can’t see it’s morals going out of style any time soon.
But now we come to the sad part. I had always thought that this was based on a true story, that Mama was really out there some where (or was). And in the highest pedestals of my little mind, there sat Mama. After rereading the book as an adult, I did some research and found out that this wasn’t exactly true, and I have to tell you: that is one piece of information that I could have lived without. My literary bubble was busted.
Fortunately, your kids don’t need to know that, and it doesn’t change the fact that this is a worthwhile read. I do want to bring up the fact that there is an alcohol reference, in case it bothers anyone. Fortunately, it’s very understandable given the time period and culture.
You can find Mama’s Bank account here. There are newer versions as well, but I don’t like the covers as well. Call me OCD, I’m just funny about those things.