Great children’s literature is not easy to come by. At TCS, we are committed to the classics, but age appropriate classics do not exist in abundance for children who are consuming literature rapidly. It is fairly easy to get through the major body of classic children’s literature during the grammar years, leaving children to either go through some of them again or find something more modern to read.
Classical education is not seeking simply to expose children to old literature, but rather good literature. As we choose modern literature for our children to read, we are looking for books that defined by truth, goodness, and beauty–books that could become classics themselves based on their quality.
I’d like to provide a few modern recommendations from time to time that I feel fit into this category. Here are three which our family has enjoyed. All of these also happen to have a strong Biblical motif as well.
Wise Words: After struggling to find good self-contained, Biblically inspired bedtime stories, Peter Leithart began to write his own. Dr. Leithart has taught theology and literature at New Saint Andrews College and is currently a pastor.
Wise Words contains 18 stories written in the tradition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Each story can be read in about 10 minutes which makes it wonderful for a quick read aloud before bedtime. Similar to Aesop’s Fables, each story ends with a succinct moral, but in this case, directly from the Book of Proverbs.
Also similar to the great fables, these stories do not always have a warm and cozy ending. They are written eloquently and imaginatively but with the intention of cultivating Biblical wisdom, incorporating some of the hard lessons from Proverbs.
The Wilderking Trilogy: This series contains an imaginative fantasy rendition of the life of King David. Jonathan Rogers is a skilled writer who is very much interested in providing today’s children with great literature in the vein of Lewis, MacDonald, Tolkien, etc.
Our children were completely captivated through the entire series. These books contain a tribe of people called “feechies” who are human in nature, but animal-like in the ways they live. For the few months following the completion of these books, our boys had one goal in life… to live like a feechie.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane: You may be familiar with Kate Dicamillo if you have heard of the book The Tale of Despereaux, which was later adapted into a movie. Although Dicamillo does not have a reputation as a Christian author, Edward Tulane can hardly be read as anything other than an allegory of the life of Christ. For those with eyes to see, the Biblical imagery is powerful and beautifully crafted. I highly recommend all of Dicamillo’s novels. If you have not read The Tale of Despereaux, you really should as well. The movie does no justice.
We have enjoyed plenty of great modern literature through the years and I plan to continue to share more great finds along the way.