Books We Read: Potporri ~ Elizabethan England, Mary Slessor and the Great Awakening

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This week, we finished up several of our unit studies (the Reformation, the Renaissance, Humility) and we prepared to jump across the pond and look at the colonization of America.  (Again, this isn’t a comprehensive list of our resources… just some of the extra reading we enjoyed.)

Next week, we’re looking at the New World, and Eastern Europe.  Look for that post next Friday!

America’s Genius: Jonathan Edwards, Christian Timothy George (Biography, Grades 4-6)

The boys and I enjoyed this biography about Jonathan Edwards.  An important figure in the American Great Awakening, Jonathan was nothing if not careful, thoughtful and self-disciplined.  He loved the Lord, loved the Lord’s people, and served in several capacities – as a wealthy preacher, and later as missionary to the Indians – with his surviving 11 children.  We enjoyed the references to David Brainerd, who we read about last week.  Edwards died just after becoming president of Princeton.

The Christian Focus 4 Kids Trailblazers series is fascinating.  The books are written by a variety of authors, some using more dialogue than others.  George uses quite a bit of fictionalized dialogue, which made for an exciting read.

Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare, Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema (Biography, Grades 1-3)

Bard of Avon is a wonderful biography about the mysterious William Shakespeare.  There is information about many of the individual plays, some of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, his family, and the arts of the time.  My children enjoyed this immensely, and my husband and I learned a thing or two we didn’t know!  We all especially enjoyed the Postscript, in which Stanley and Vennema address spelling and language during the time of Shakespeare, as well as his impact on the English language.  I couldn’t help contrasting Shakespeare’s impact on language and the arts to his contribution to his family.  It is a shame that his spectacular life didn’t appear to include a dedication to those around him.  Stanley’s illustrations are charming.

Mary Slessor: Forward into Calabar, Janet and Geoff Benge (Biography, Grades 4-6)

I love this Christian Heroes series by Janet & Geoff Benge!  I think they do a fantastic job of telling the stories of men and women following Christ.  We spent a month reading Mary Slessor as a part of our CQLA humility unit.  Ms. Slessor was an incredible example of a woman determined to live for Christ.  From her heartbreaking beginnings to her faithful service as a missionary in West Africa, she followed her Lord unquestioningly – with incredible results.  Not only did Ms. Slessor share the Gospel in areas previously unreached, she saved lives – standing up to armed warriors in defense of the defenseless, even when their death was allowed (or required) by local “law”.  In fact, her life helped change an entire culture.  I couldn’t help wondering what our world would be like if we Christians consistently did that today.

African Adventures, Dick Anderson  (Missionary Stories, Grades 4-6)

I enjoyed reading this charming book aloud to the boys.  It is a perfect read-aloud for 1st through 3rd grade.  The chapters are individual short stories about a missionary’s time in Kenya.  Each story has some biblical take-away, making them almost like little devotionals (though not so obvious).  There are attractive black and white illustrations throughout, and the descriptions of the culture, wildlife and people are intriguing.  This is part of Christian Focus 4 Kids’ Adventures series.  I look forward to reading more adventures in other parts of the world.

Courage and Conviction; Volume 3: Chronicles of the Reformation Church, Mindy and Brandon Withrow (Church History, Grades 4-6)

See more about the History Lives series in Church History Worth Selling Your Silverware For. I couldn’t imagine not including this excellent book in our studies of the Reformation, so I am reading it aloud as we go.

This week, we read a biographical sketch: “John Knox: Trumpeter of God”.  Knox was a leading preacher in the Scottish Reformation.  The story focused on his reluctance to preach, and on the time he spent in the castle at St. Andrews.

What did your family read last week?

~Danika Cooley

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