Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey

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Good Books for Boys and Girls

children reading poster2 jwsmith

Recently my friend Joni asked about good books for little boys.  Oh my, this is a favorite subject!  I have thought about doing a whole post just on how to shop for used books!  I’m addicted.

I have been scratching out a short list of favorite books for boys and girls.  Of course there is a lot of overlap.  Girls will probably enjoy most books on the boy list, and boys will undoubtedly enjoy many books on the girl list.  But this is roughly divided into “boy” and “girl” books.

I’ve loosely listed them by age, starting with easy readers and moving to read-alouds (if your children are young or not proficient readers).  This is just a sampling of some of our favorite books.  I will add to the list as I think of more.  Sorry, I didn’t have time to look up every author or link to a place to buy each book.  Google for more info.

NOTE: This does not include preschool books, necessarily.  That would be a whole different post!

Books for Boys


Snipp Snapp and Snurr series by Maj Lindham

Books by Thornton W. Burgess

Eddie books by Caroline Haywood

Peter and Penny books by Caroline Haywood

Hank the Cowdog series

Non-fiction books about ships, animals, tractors, military, sports, historical eras, cowboys, Scout guides…even if they are not in scouts…whatever.  A popular one here is Great Disasters of the World…go figure…My 6 year old would rather read about real-life stuff than fiction any day.

Dinosaur books, especially those from the Answers in Genesis

Books by EB White, especially Stuart Little and Trumpet of the Swan

Owls in the Family by Farley Mowatt

The Cricket in Times Square

Dangerous Book for Boys

The Sign of the Beaver

Ivan series by Myrna Grant (about a Christian family in Russia under communism…out of print…look on Amazon)

Little Britches series (These contain some mild cussing I think, and possibly some slightly more mature themes.  Pre-reading recommended.)

Johnny Tremaine by Esther Forbes

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein (and for older boys, The Lord of the Rings trilogy)

I believe the old Hardy Boys books are OK…someone correct me if I’m wrong

I have heard great things about GA Henty’s historical novels for boys, but I have never read them myself.

Missionary biographies (Brother Andrew, Nate Saint, Hudson Taylor, etc.)  These are typically adventurous and so character-building!

Biographies of great Americans (Sower series, If You Grew Up With series and others)

Books for Girls


Flicka Ricka and Dicka series (picture books with engaging text) by Maj Lindham

Five Little Peppers series

Happy Little Family series by Rebecca Caudill  (LOVE these!)

Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Bobbsey Twins series

Betsy series by Caroline Haywood

American Girl books (pre-reading recommended)

Anne of Green Gables

The Secret Garden

A Little Princess

Missionary Biographies (Gladys Ayleward, Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Elliot and others)

Biographies of historical figures



girl sleeping

Rest is spiritual.  In our culture it’s unpopular.  Getting adequate rest, admitting that you sleep 8 or 9 hours per night or that you took a nap is often viewed as lazy.  Even in Christian circles, he who works the longest without a break is often considered the most godly.  (I’m not talking about people who actually have a low sleep need.  Some people are like that.  Not me.)  Nevertheless, we must remember that even God (who doesn’t need anything) rested after He created the World, and He ordained Sabbath rest.


This week I received my new copy of Notes from Toad Hall.  The writings of Margie Haack and her husband Denis have had  a profound impact on my spiritual journey, especially in terms of how I view people outside Christianity—even when I disagree with their viewpoint they make me think.  I so appreciated Margie’s thoughts in this issue.  She quotes Professor David Nelson:

[O]ur theological reflection (in the sense of reflection upon God) should lead us to recognize that God himself has not chosen to accomplish everything in one day, one week, month or year.  Not only does God’s creative work occur over time, but His providential work of bringing all things to His good end occurs over millennia.  Since God Himself does not accomplish all his purposes in one day, it seems odd that His people might fret, forsake rest, and live disordered lives to do what God Himself has chosen not to do.  What God could do, He does not, and what we cannot do, we attempt to do, to our own detriment.

Margie then adds, “This rhythm of work and rest that Nelson writes about is rooted in creation and presupposes that what we do in an ordinary, everyday way is ordained and blessed by God, which applies to all sorts of vocations—not just religious or missionary callings.  God not only grants us the freedom to do nothing visibly useful at times, he insists on it.  He desires us to trust that our resting accomplishes his purposes even when closure looks way overdue and our path looks grim.”

Dallas Willard, whom Billy was privileged to interview a few years ago, told my husband this:  He gives a yearly 2-week spiritual retreat to students at a large seminary.  One of the retreat requirements is that the participants stay in bed for 10 hours each night.  Can you imagine?  Enough sleep over a two week period would make a new person out of anyone!

Jen at Conversion Diary (a mother of 4 very small children) shared once about her struggles to focus during prayer.  When she discussed it with her spiritual director, the director told her to get more sleep.  Sometimes there is a simple physical answer to what we view as a complex spiritual problem.  Exhaustion can make us not only unable to focus, but can leave us more vulnerable to temptations…the temptation to fear, to yell at our kids, to neglect our husbands, to let our thought life grow up in weeds…because we just feel too weary to fight.  That’s not to say that we won’t be tired at times; neither is it an excuse to sin when we are…But when possible, getting enough rest can have a bring incredible spiritual benefit, even if it means leaving some things undone.

That’s hard for us mothers   Remember the old saying, “A man may work from sun to sun, but mother’s work is never done”?   I for one am frequently tempted to operate out of frustration over all that’s not getting done.  I forget to consult God about what His agenda might be for my day, his calling, rather than what I think I should accomplish.  For our own good and the good of our families, sometimes we must leave things as they are and simply rest in God, knowing that He will give us grace and time to finish what He has required of us, rather than collapsing under the heavy burdens we lay on ourselves.

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Discipleship Starts at Home

I promise I have some stuff in the works and this isn’t going to just be a blog that links to others.  Nevertheless, I did think this miniseries on teaching our children about God (from Resurgence) was worth passing along.

Discipleship Starts at Home, part 1

Discipleship Starts at Home, part 2

It’s specifically directed toward fathers, but there’s much a Christian mother can glean as well!

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Monthly Grocery Shopping

woman shopping

I’m gearing up for monthly shopping.  Doing it this way is fairly new to me.

I tried monthly shopping once before but I was not very organized and it was pretty much a disaster.  It’s time to give it another shot though–I just don’t have time for a weekly errand day any more, and I certainly don’t want to spend my precious weekend time with my husband at Wal-Mart.

I’m basically starting with a monthly menu and making a master grocery list from the menu.  I’m pulling ideas from a lot of smart people.  This particular system worked very well for me last month.  It only needed minor tweaking.  It was so nice to only have to shop weekly for produce, eggs, and milk.  I’m hoping it continues to be this worth it!

What grocery shopping system works for you?